Socioeconomic impacts of drought on pastoralists, their coping strategies, and government interventions in Marsabit county, Kenya
This study investigated the socioeconomic effects of drought on pastoralists, their coping and adaptation strategies, and the government interventions in Loiyangalani Division of Marsabit County. Using both qualitative and quantitative approaches, the study employed desktop review of relevant documents, semi-structured questionnaires, and interview schedules on key informants and focus groups. Multi-stage sampling method was used on households. To corroborate drought perceptions, rainfall data between 1970 and 2008 were analysed for trend and anomaly. Qualitative data were coded and subjected to thematic analysis, whereas, quantitative data were subjected to descriptive statistics. Rainfall data shows a declining trend in precipitation between 1970 and 2008. Pastoralists in Loiyangalani perceived drought as lack of rainfall for one or more seasons and classified it as minor or major. Livestock mortalities and morbidity, human morbidity, conflicts, food insecurity, reduction of livestock prices, and increase in food prices were among the socioeconomic impacts of drought experienced. The coping and adaptation mechanisms employed by the pastoralists included mobility, herd diversification, herd splitting/merging, sale of livestock, and livelihood diversification amongst others. The study revealed that government intervention has been largely through provision of emergency food aid. The government has put in place policy and institutional framework to address the issue of drought. However, insufficient financing and low prioritization has hampered effective implementation of these policies. The study recommends a policy strategy geared towards diversification of pastoral livelihoods and promotion of their resilience. This includes establishment of road infrastructure, improvement of livestock marketing and trade, provision of veterinary services, development of water resources and provision of public health facilities.