Risk and Social Change in an African Rural Economy

Livelihoods in Pastoralist Communities

By John G. McPeak, Peter D. Little, Cheryl R. Doss

© 2012 – Routledge

206 pages | 34 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415615983
pub: 2011-07-20
US Dollars$145.00
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About the Book

Pastoralists’ role in contemporary Africa typically goes underappreciated and misunderstood by development agencies, external observers, and policymakers. Yet, arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL), which are used predominantly for extensive livestock grazing, comprise nearly half of the continent’s land mass, while a substantial proportion of national economies are based on pastoralist activities. Pastoralists use these drylands to generate income for themselves through the use of livestock and for the coffers of national trade and revenue agencies. They are frequently among the continent’s most contested and lawless regions, providing sanctuary to armed rebel groups and exposing residents to widespread insecurity and destructive violence. The continent’s millions of pastoralists thus inhabit some of Africa’s harshest and most remote, but also most ecologically, economically, and politically important regions.

This study summarizes the findings of a multi-year interdisciplinary research project in pastoral areas of Kenya and Ethiopia. The cultures and ecology of these areas are described, with a particular focus on the myriad risks that confront people living in these drylands, and how these risks are often triggered by highly variable rainfall conditions. The authors examine the markets used by residents of these areas to sell livestock and livestock products and purchase consumer goods before turning to an analysis of evolving livelihood strategies. Furthermore, they focus on how well-being is conditioned upon access to livestock and access to the cash economy, gender patterns within households and the history of development activities in the area. The book concludes with a report on how these activities are assessed by people in the area and what activities they prioritize for the future.

Policy in pastoral areas is often formulated on the basis of assumptions and stereotypes, without adequate empirical foundations. This book provides evidence on livelihood strategies being followed in pastoral areas, and investigates patterns in decision making and well being. It indicates the importance of livestock to the livelihoods of people in these areas, and identifies the critical and widespread importance of access to the cash economy, concluding that future development activities need to be built on the foundation of the livestock economy, instead of seeking to replace it.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Culture, History, and Political Ecology 3. Livestock Markes 4. A Risky Region 5. Changing Livelihood Strategies 6. Household and Intra-Household Patterns 7. Development Priorities? 8. Conclusion

About the Authors

John McPeak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Administration in the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, USA.

Peter D. Little is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Program in Development Studies at Emory University, USA.

Cheryl R. Doss is Senior Lecturer in Global Affairs and Economics and the Director of Graduate Studies for the MA program in International Relations at Yale University, USA.

About the Series

Routledge ISS Studies in Rural Livelihoods

Routledge and the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands have come together to publish a new book series in rural livelihoods. The series will include themes such as land policies and land rights, water issues, food policy and politics, rural poverty, agrarian transformation, migration, rural-oriented social movements, rural conflict and violence, among others. All books in the series will offer rigorous, empirically grounded, cross-national comparative and inter-regional analysis. The books will be theoretically stimulating, but will also be accessible to policy practitioners and civil society activists.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUS000000
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / General
BUS068000
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUS069000
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General
BUS069020
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / Economics