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Hum Ecol. 1990 Dec;18(4):385-402.

Drought and economic differentiation among Ariaal pastoralists of Kenya.



In 1985, anthropologists interviewed stock owners from 38 households in Lewogoso Lukumai settlement in northern Kenya which were the same households studied in 1976 to determine whether the 1984 drought increased wealth differences between the rich and poor in this community of Ariaal pastoralists. They compared the 1985 post drought herd size and species specific losses to the 1976 predrought counts. Rich households tended to be polygynous, had large herd sizes, and more camels and cattle. The results confirmed that the drought did indeed reduce herd size. Camels were less likely to die than were cattle and small stock (goats and sheep) 18.3% died vs. 51.2% and 49.8% respectively. Poor households tended to own small stock. Large stock represented wealth and prestige. The rich experienced the most loss of animals, yet they did not have the same adverse consequences as did the poor. As a result of the drought, the number of poor households rose from 7-15 and the number of sufficient status households from 12-15. Only 8 of the 19 original rich households remained rich. Yet none of the 11 remaining families became poor following the drought. Yet, of the original 11 sufficient households, 67% became poor and all of the original poor households remained poor. In addition to differential herd composition and differential herd loss, differential participation in the case market resulted brought about considerable urban migration. Thus drought did not equalize household inequalities but indeed exacerbated them.

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