Academic journal article Journal of Ecological Anthropology

Pastoralists' Perception on the Trend of Various Climatic, Social and Environmental Variables in Baringo County, Kenya

Academic journal article Journal of Ecological Anthropology

Pastoralists' Perception on the Trend of Various Climatic, Social and Environmental Variables in Baringo County, Kenya

Article excerpt


Climate change is happening in Kenya, and people have begun to experience its impacts on their daily lives according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2001). Historical records, oral and/or written, are replete with references of droughts and floods. Even though the exact magnitude of the changes in temperature, rainfall, and extreme weather events has not been computed, based on the several General Circulation Model scenarios, the future climatic projections for Kenya indicates increase in mean annual temperature of 2.5°-5°C magnitude, and approximately 25% increase in precipitation (Mendelsohn et al. 2000). The progressive increases in mean temperatures might result in significant changes in rainfall, rise in sea level, evaporation, hydrological cycle, as well as frequency of extreme weather events (droughts, floods and storms). These would, in turn, adversely impact primary (food) production and ecological systems, with spin-offs to other socio-economic sectors such as public health.

In Marigat Sub-County, climatic changes including flooding events have been reported by the local pastoralists during the last forty years according to a research conducted by Wasonga et al. (2011) based on indigenous knowledge. In the research findings, heavy rainfall accompanied by floods were reported to be more common recently than 40 years ago. In addition, frequent and severe droughts were perceived to be responsible for the reduction in water level in Lake Baringo as well as intermittency of most rivers which had been permanent in the past. Vulnerability of most pastoralists has been made worse by the fact that their livelihood systems have been constrained by frequent conflicts over natural resources (Rettberg 2010). Climate variability and change has heavily impacted livestock production which is the main source of livelihood to most of the pastoralists. The impacts have affected various aspects of livestock production including feed quantity and quality, animal and rangeland biodiversity, management practices and production systems changes among others (Herrero et al. 2009).

While Kenyans have considerable experience in dealing with climate variability, climate change is likely to present them with new and tougher challenges, requiring them to adopt innovative strategies to cope with new situations. "The current technologies and approaches-especially in agriculture and water-are unlikely to be adequate to meet projected demands, and increased climate variability will be an additional stress" (IPCC 2001). It is true that, as in the rest of the continent, the process of adapting to global climate change, including technology transfer, offers new development of pathways that could take advantage of Kenya's physical and human resources.

This study utilized a number of methods in trying to understand the level of vulnerability of pastoralists to climatic variability. The study particularly focused on two of the three divisions of Marigat Sub-County that are prone to climatic disasters and that have been negatively affected by such disasters in the past. The study period was 1971 to 2010.


Study Area

The study was carried out in the Semi-arid rangeland of Marigat Sub-County of Baringo County, Kenya. This area is located between latitude 00o26'- 00o32'N and longitude 36o00'- 36o09' E and an average altitude of 900m above the sea level. It is located within agro-climatic zone IV and V (Wasonga et al. 2011). Marigat Sub-County was one of the newly created Sub-Counties from the larger Baringo County and covers an area of 1,677.45 sq. km2 (District Development Office 2011).

The rainfall is about 30 percent reliable with high variability, receiving an average rainfall of 500 mm per annum (Wasonga et al. 2011). In normal circumstances, rainfall is bimodal with long rains starting in March to July while short rains at end of September to early November. The average annual temperature is about 27 °C. …

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