In-depth: Another Kenya - The humanitarian cost of under-development

KENYA: Making a living from livestock in Kenya's arid northwest has never been easy (photo essay)

A Turkana elder in northwest Kenya
NAIROBI, 30 July 2009 (IRIN) - In good times, pastoralist communities make use of natural water resources and grazing to sustain their herds, which produce milk, meat and cash when sold. The animals, combined with some wage labour, cropping, barter and petty trade, have provided a living for millions in the Horn of Africa for centuries. Social and cultural traditions reinforce the lifestyle. The produce of the pastoralist areas provides meat for the cities and export revenue.

In bad times, rivers and ponds dry up, grass does not grow, animals cannot be sold but do not stay healthy either. Children miss out on milk and other food and are more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease.

In a serious drought, tensions within and between communities tend to rise as competition for resources becomes a life-and-death issue. Clashes and raids become more common. Emergency relief measures do not provide long-term solutions, and the environment pays the price when people turn to charcoal making, for example, to earn a living.

2009 is turning out to be a tough year for pastoralists in the Horn of Africa.

This photo essay "Pastoralism Under Threat" takes a look at the pressures on the Turkana people in northwestern Kenya.

Related reports: 
KENYA: The dangers of pastoralism
KENYA: Malnutrition crisis in northwest
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