Assessing Climate Change Adaptation Strategies among rural Maasai Pastoralist in Kenya

Bobadoye AO, Ogara WO, Ouma GO, Onono JO. "Assessing Climate Change Adaptation Strategies among rural Maasai Pastoralist in Kenya." American Journal of Rural Development. 2016;4(6):120-128.


The aim of this study is to assess adaptation and coping strategies of Maasai pastoralist to climate change and identify viable adaptation options to reduce the impact of climate change among Maasai pastoralist in the arid and semi-arid (ASALS) in Kenya. The study was carried out in Kajiado County and multiple data collection
techniques such as in-depth interview with 305 households, focus group discussion, and key informant interview
were used to assess adaptation strategies of pastoralist household and identify viable adaptation options for the study area. Rainfall data used for the study was also collected from Kenya Meteorological Service (KMS) and used for standard precipitation index (SPI) analysis. SPI was used to analyze drought severity in the study area between 1970 and 2013. SPI was designed to quantify precipitation deficit for multiple time scale. Results showed that drought is the major climatic challenge affecting pastoralist in the study area. The SPI result showed increase in drought occurrence in Kajiado County in recent years with six years (2000, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2011) having negative SPI values between 2000-2011. The year 2000 was also the driest year recorded in the study with an SPI value of -3.09. The study also showed that Maasai pastoralists already have many adaptation measures to cope with the impacts of climate extremes. However, increase in drought occurrence in the last few years is reducing their resilience. This study observed that most of the adaptation and coping strategies adopted by Maasai pastoralist are autonomous and are unlikely to build resilience of pastoralist livelihoods and ecosystems to cope with the projected magnitude and scale of climate change in the 21st Century. The study identified adaptation strategies such as effective early warning system, water harvesting, rapid infrastructural development, encouraging table banking and cooperative societies, Building and equipping schools, migration, livestock diversification and child education as long term no regret adaptation option that can enhance resilience of Maasai pastoralist to climate change and its extremes in the arid and semi arid lands of Kenya.

Keywords: adaptation strategies, drought, climate change, Maasai pastoralist


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