10. The Future of Pastoral Society

Here, I have argued that the production system that African pastoralists adopted entails an effective strategy of adaptation to the unstable and unpredictable natural environment. However, many reports have recently suggested that this system is on the verge of falling apart. There are a number of reasons for the crisis. First, the space available to pastoralists has been reduced. This situation surfaced as a result of governments’ restrictive controls on the movements of pastoralists, as well as intrusions by agriculturalists into their dry season grazing land. Ironically, these farmers have also been forced from their lands by population growth and the expansion of commercial capitalist farming.

Second, due to the increased availability of modern medical treatment, population growth in pastoralist society has started to overload the traditional system, preventing it from functioning properly. Third, pastoral societies began to experience many contradictions. For instance, the gap between the rich and the poor has expanded because of the spread of the market economy and development assistance projects. At the moment, nobody has been able to come up with effective solutions to tackle all these problems. For future development assistance, what has been suggested is utilizing a style of building up small innovations by carrying out small-scale, flexible projects, rather than attempting to modify the production system as a whole (Dyson-Hudson, 1998).

Reference: Neville Dyson- Hudson, “Pastoral Production Systems and Livestock Development Projects: An East African Perspective” 1991, “Putting People First: Sociological Variables in Rural Development”, 2nd Edition, ed. by M. Cernea, World Bank, pp. 157-186.

(All the photos that used are pictures that I took in Turkana Region, Republic of Kenya)

OHTA Itaru
Living in the Arid Zone: Ecology of Pastoral Societies in Africa