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Title: Pastoralist Societies in Flux: The Impact of Ecology, Markets, and Governmental Assistance on the Mukugodo Maasai of Kenya
Authors: Hauck, Stephanie J.
Advisors: Rubenstein, Daniel I
Contributors: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department
Keywords: health
land use
Subjects: Ecology
African studies
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Pastoral livelihoods around the world are evolving. The majority of Africa's pastoral populations have been settled for more than 30 years, and new studies generating old hypotheses about the consequences of settlement for pastoralists are no longer relevant. The emergence of globalized markets and the integration of globalized production in developing country settings have forced many pastoralists, along with the rest of the world's consumers, to shift their economic strategies of production to accommodate these evolving markets. The aim of this dissertation is to illustrate the relationship between globalization and apparent transformations in pastoralist behavior (areas such as land use, herding, diet, disease patterns) in recent years. We specifically focus on the links among rainfall and vegetation, land use and herding, diets, and health for Mukugodo Maasai in rural northern Kenya. To do this, we use a novel conceptual framework that incorporates both traditional interactions between pastoral ecology and resource generation and modern opportunities. We accomplish this by linking pastoral families via their pastoral production and other economic activities to the cash economy, modern diets and nutritional status (health), and public and private assistance and programs (such as food aid). Using this framework, we show that there is a significant relationship between rainfall and vegetation in Mukugodo, and this relationship is directly tied to livestock productivity. We also show that herders do not always behave in economically rational ways when making decisions about where to move their livestock during seasonal or crisis-induced migrations. These decisions in turn influence the production potential of households, such as whether they can generate subsistence products to meet their needs or quality stock to sell in the market. This is reflected in the striking degree of inequality, as measured by Thiel's T and the Gini Coefficient, that arises in the year following a major drought event among households. Rainfall, vegetation, and herding decisions also influence how Mukugodo pastoralists engage with the market. Dietary patterns, as reported by women using our pictorial diet assessment tool indicate that the majority of the population is chronically energy and protein deficient, with average calorie intake ranging from 1200 to 1800 per day, partly due to unfavorable terms of trade for agricultural goods in local markets. Our analysis of nutritional indicators among Mukugodo children and adolescents aged 0-19 years revealed a population suffering from chronic, moderate malnutrition, we suspect in large part due to their highly deficient diets. When families don't have cash or stock to sell in the market (or don't want to because pricing structures are prohibitive) they must turn to an alternative source of calories, such as food aid from public or private sources. Families who have access to subsidized rations for purchase from private ranches and conservancies have better dietary outcomes than families who do not. In conclusion, pastoralist societies are in flux, and the consequences of these changes, some of which we have highlighted in this dissertation, are likely to have far reaching effects on the livelihoods of pastoralist societies in the future.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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