Dynamics of institutional arrangements and their adaptation to socio-economic and ecological challenges in pastoral areas of northern Kenya
Kanyuuru, Caroline K.
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The Northern Rangelands of Kenya are home to approximately 10 Million people and the key livelihood is pastoralism. The rangelands are a source of numerous and diverse goods and services, that are sometimes tangible and measurable and others not. These are best categorized within the Total Economic Value (TEV) framework as direct, indirect, option and bequest values. Pastoralists’ ability to manage the rangelands has rested in the capacity of customary institutions to make and uphold rules and sanction breach of rules. These institutional arrangements are however challenged in their capacity and as a result are changing from their traditional form into new hybrids of management in order to cope with socio-economic and ecological changes. There is no substantial information on the dynamism of these institutions as well as how they affect the value of the pastoralist ecosystem services benefits to support policy seeking to address the underlying challenges. This study seeks to address this gap by evaluating the changing nature of pastoralists’ institutional arrangements to cope with the socio-economic and ecological changes and how this is contributing to value of ecosystem services benefits in the Northern Rangelands of Kenya. The study was carried out in Kinna Division (Isiolo, County), Makurian Group Ranch (Laikipia, County) and West Gate Community Conservancy (Samburu, County), to represent three types of institutional arrangements. These arrangements include elders only, group ranch committee and community conservancy board respectively. Key informant interviews, focused group discussions and household survey methods were used to gather data. Data was managed and analysed using Ms office (Ms Access, Ms Excel), social network analysis and STATA softwares. Findings show institutional arrangements are changing overtime and the change is characterized by an interaction of players indicating co-management. Types of institutional arrangements were noted to influence economic values of ecosystem services benefits. This was evidenced by the presence of a robust institutional framework in marginalized area and their support to address socio-economic challenges thus fueling development. The results further show that external actors are also attracted to community institutional arrangements that have a semi-formal structure (group ranch committee and conservancy board), than an elders only type management. Co-management and livelihood diversification were two observed features of enhanced resilience that need to be considered to stir development in the Northern Rangelands of Kenya. The study findings will support the ASAL policy by establishing a multi-sectoral and multistakeholder framework for regional development. Further, these findings will be useful as the devolved county governments seek ways of engaging community leadership in both resource management and economic development.