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The Destiny of Pastoralism

The fragmentation of the rangelands due to the sprouting of informal settlements is exacerbating pastoralists’ ability to manage the increasingly variable production of pasture due to more erratic rainfall. Successive droughts have led to diminishing of pasture and eventual pastoral drop outs that engage in informal settlement along the wet season grazing zones.

This will have long term effects of rangeland degradation and fresh pasture mutilation. Pastoral communities are accustomed to dealing with drought and erratic rainfall and have traditionally utilized systems and practices that minimized the impact of climate-related shocks to their livelihoods.

Recently, however, the impacts of economic and political factors are combining with the changing climate to increase vulnerability for poor and marginalized households. The situation is particularly serious for women, who face additional social, cultural and political constraints to resource access and adaptive decision-making. As a result, some households have transitioned into an agro-pastoral way of life, combining traditional livestock rearing with crop production and other economic activities. 

While this shift represents an innovation for these communities, it is also driving the development of sparsely distributed permanent settlements on wet season potential pasture zones thereby exposing them to new risks and a different set of challenges in securing their livelihoods.

In Wajir, the impacts of climate change are already being felt and communities are seeking ways to adapt to the changes and to build resilient livelihoods. The adaptive capacity of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists is dynamic, affected by a range of social, environmental, economic and political variables, many of them beyond the control of the community. 

Analysis of vulnerability must go beyond exposure and sensitivity to climate impacts. It must explore the different dimensions of adaptive capacity and identify barriers that communities face in applying their existing capacity to respond to climate impacts for this will lead to the identification of adaptation options that reinforce and build upon existing adaptive capacity.

Residents of Wajir County have been engaging in consultative meetings on how to sustain their livelihoods in the face of multiple, evolving challenges. Climate change is among the most serious of these challenges, exacerbating existing problems, exposing people to new and evolving risks and creating further complexity in decision-making.  

In order for people to respond to and anticipate changes and to engage in adaptive decision-making, they require information, knowledge and skills that enable them to actively address climate risks on their livelihoods. Adaptation efforts must aim to facilitate access to information and capacity build communities while also working with institutions and policies to ensure an enabling environment for local adaptation efforts.

Within communities and households, women and men have differing levels of adaptive capacity. Somali society places limitations on women’s voice, movement and participation in public and household decision-making, which in turn creates constraints on their adaptive capacity.  This limits the ability of families and communities to realize the potential contribution of women’s specific knowledge and skills to adaptation efforts. Analysis of vulnerability and adaptive capacity must uncover these differences and build understanding of the specific roles, responsibilities and challenges faced by women and men in securing their livelihoods and adapting to climate change.

Arid Lands Development Focus (ALDEF) under the Adaptation Consortium are supporting a process to create a landmark shift of mindsets toward resilience of pastoralism in the future.  This is being achieved through the formation of the Ward Adaptation Planning Committees (WAPC) as a platform to ignite and propel climate justice in face of pastoral rangeland defacement.

ALDEF Kenya with support of the county government is on verge of tabling the County Climate Change Adaptation Fund Bill - CCCAF bill in the county parliament to trigger the journey of transforming from emergency to resilience, to realize informed decision-making on public investment (to be funded by CCCAF basket). ALDEF Kenya enable county government planners to undertake resilience assessment to understand the community needs in relation to climate change.

The resilience assessment methodology is designed to empower communities, men and women, to articulate the factors that with proper investment will build their resilience. Once the bill is passed, it will enable Wajir county harvest and harness the highly anticipated Global Green Climate Fund and other funds to neutralize climate change effects locally.

Mohamed Turane


Governance Project Officer