The social dynamicsof water management among the east pokot pastoralists, Nginyang Division Baringo district of Kenya
The East Pokot pastoralists belong to the wider Ka_lenjin ~peakiny group. They are herders of cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and camels. These animals provide for them food - miik, meat blood and also provide skins for clothing and dung for building "manya t t as :", The East Pokot live in two divisions - Nginyang and Tangulbei. The 1979 national population census indicated that they were 37,000. The central concern for this thesis was to find out the social behaviour patterns that emerge around water and how these patterns are translated into management of this scarce resource. This was because of the clear understanding that water upon which the pastoral economy is dependent is scarce and therefore requi res careful management. The main objectives of this study were to find out the decision making processes around water, examine ownership patterns and how ownership is acquired and translated into rights of access and, to find out the existing rules of water use and sanctions applied in cases of non-conformity. The efficacy of communal ownership and use of resources in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya and the world over has in the preceeding period increasingly come under question. Early writings indicate that communal ownership and use of resources leads to waste because there is no affection involved in exploitation. The tragedy of the commons theory has been a landmark formulation that has for generations sparked off raging debate over efficacy of communal ownership of resources. Studies by Daniel Bromley in the period preceeding 1993 have all along defended the conveniences, efficacy and sustainability of communally owned resources. The two paradigmatic arguments constitute the backbone of this thesis. The focus of this study was to investigate the existing indigenous water resource management techniques among the Pokot. This was in an effort to understand how pastoralists manage the scanty and fragile resources on their own. The study investigated those institutional and cultural factors with regard to water management among the past 0 ra1 Pokot. The st udy con cent rat ed on those inbu i1t mechan isms that st and out du ring drought and when water becomes critically scarce. The study benefitted from a range of methods of data collection. The unit of analysis during the field work was individual household units (heads) and this was supplemented by key informant interviews. Given the nature of the study anthropological methods - observation, informal interviews, key informant interviews were used in collecting qualitative data. The questionnaire was the most important source of generating quantitative data though it also generated a substantive mass of qualitative data. Documentary sources were useful particularly in Chapter 2 for its present face by extensively reviewing literature on pastoralism and ownership of resources. The study employed descriptive methods of data analysis and used tables, frequencies and percentages in analysing the data in Chapter 4. The sample size for this study was 61 households. This sample comprised of 53 ....- and 8 male and female respondents respectively. The study formulated three hypotheses around which data was collected and used to test them in Chapter 4. The hypothese~ were: Demographic variables are crucial determinants of water utilization; division of labour affects utilization of water in the household; water use depends of the peoples perception of the environment. Findings of this study indicated that there were cultural underpinnings which regulated and controlled exploitation of common resou rces. The inst it ut ion of the "k o kwo " was t he most not iceab 1e body with which administration of water rests. It occupies the central position in the Pokot lifestyle and it is therefore their toolkit for everybody life for its duties and responsibilities pervades all aspects of everyday life. This ranges from formulation of rules, punishment, organization of grazing time table, deliberation on security arrangements, sanction cattle raids, arrange circumcision and 'sapana' dates etc. The study also found that with the proliferation of the Provincial Administration and the increasing power of the elected politicians the 'Kokwo' is becoming incapacitated in its duties. Unless this is checked we might be seeing the systematic collapse of indigenous institutions that have for centuries been responsible guardians of the resources on wh ich t hey depend. The more the Provincial Administration extends its tentacles the faster the 'Kokwo' becomes powerless and the more the security situation deteriorates and the faster the range degradation as witnessed around Chemolingot, Chesanja, ....- (v i ) Nginyang resulting from a shrunken resource base. Along this background the study found that the state of the range 's()l!trof Ngin:"an\:j is more attributed to insecurity than the nature of nomadic pastoralism. In the study women portrayed a better understanding of the environment in which they live because all their activities were clear reflections of this understanding. The school, it was found out negatively affected water management in the household because oft hew ithdraw a I 0 f use fu 1 1abou r. fetched. Consequently less water was It is the call of this thesis that the Pokot need to be armed as before. The anti-stock theft unit at Chemolingot is powerless alone in the face of the superior Turkana raiders. The Pokot homeguards should be given guns to defend their livestock and life and in the process halt the on-going land degradation. Congestion has in this case resulted from the fact that the Pokot have been scared off most of their grazing land towards the north where the dry season pastures lie. Given the scarcity of water it is the desired recommendation of this study that more water pans should be scooped in this area in order to reduce the long distances covered by human beings and livestock to the water sourc~s. While a Non-Governmental Organ izat ion Kenya Freedom from Hunger Counci I has for long provided water to the Pokot, its efforts should be supplemented by other bodies and means in order to diversify the water sources. (vii) Central governments have the world over been uncomfortable in the face of indigenous institutions. This study strongly recommends that - the central government should recognize the existence and role played by the 'Kokwo' and leave as much aut ho rit y wit hit a s po ssib 1e 0ve r 10 cal iss ues . The Provincial Administration in Kenya should not see the 'Kokwo' as a threat but a partner in development and governance. A recognition of the 'Kokwo' has strong implications for articulate resource management and improved security .