Raiding pastoral livelihoods: motives and effects of violent conflict in north-western Kenya

Type Journal Article - Pastoralism
Title Raiding pastoral livelihoods: motives and effects of violent conflict in north-western Kenya
Volume 2
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 1-16
Conflicts related to livestock raiding are not new phenomena in many pastoral societies in the Horn of Africa. Traditionally, various pastoral communities use raiding as a cultural practice for restocking of herds, especially after periods of drought or outbreaks of diseases. However, in recent years, livestock raiding has become more frequent, violent and destructive.
This paper elucidates, first, the motives behind the current livestock raiding, and second, it analyses how conflict affects livelihoods of pastoral communities. Between 2008 and 2011, focus group discussions and interviews were carried out with 376 members of the Turkana and Pokot communities and key informants.
The study findings suggest that hunger and drought impacting on availability and access of resources are critical raiding motives among the Turkana, while increasing wealth and payment of dowry are the most important motives for the Pokot community. Violent conflict poses a significant threat to pastoral livelihoods which are already under pressure from recurrent drought, diseases and political marginalisation. The direct impact of violent raiding is felt in terms of loss of human life and property, reduction in livestock numbers, limited access to water and pasture resources and forced migration. Indirectly, violent conflicts create a strong and omnipresent perception of insecurity which results in ineffective resource utilisation, reduced mobility, food insecurity and closure of markets and schools. These factors combined undermine adaptation strategies and pastoralism altogether. Hence, a framework of conflict mitigation is needed which addresses the specific raiding motives of each group.

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