Boran Pastoral Innovations in Response to Climate Change: A Case of Merti Division, Isiolo County, Kenya

Aga Omar Boru Jillo, James Koske


Pastoralism is the main source of livelihood for Boran community inhabiting Northern Kenya. Over time, they have developed coping strategies aimed at minimising losses from aridity. Although the strategies may have served the community well in the past, they are presently perceived as inadequate in the light of climate change. This study investigated necessary adjustments in the strategies and innovations among the Boran in Merti Division of Isiolo County. Specific objectives are to investigate innovations by Boran pastoralist’ in response to climate change, to find out the main drivers of innovation practices and to establish the relationships between herders’ innovation practices, climate change and livelihood strategies Qualitative and quantitative approaches were applied. The target population was 400 from which a random sample of 80 herders was drawn. All the 6 local chiefs and 6 community leaders in the area were also interviewed. Data was collected using semi structured questionnaires and key Informant interviews. The resulting data was coded and statistically analyzed using the statistical package for a social scientist (SPSS). Then the results were analysed, discussed and presented in graphs, pie charts and tables. The results showed that there were main drivers of innovations among Boran pastoralists in Merti Division. They include prolonged droughts, conflicts and invasive species which are linked to climatic changes. There were also response strategies which were found to be improvement in their usual drought coping strategies while others are newly emerging strategies. The innovation practices include agreement between herders and ranchers, livelihood diversification, inter-community negotiations, change in mobility, among others. The study established that 53% of the pastoralists were aged over 40 years while 47% were aged below 40 years though there was no significant difference between the two groups (p=0.0921). On the period the respondents had worked as pastoralist, the results showed that majority (52%) had worked for more than 9 years while the rest had worked for less than 9 years as pastoralists. Further, the results of the study established that climate change was a key driver of herders led innovation practices. The study established that a unit deterioration of the climate change would lead to an increase in the herders led innovation practices by 4.5 units with this being significant at 5% level of significance (p=0.000). On the other hand, livelihood strategies were also to be significantly associated with herder led innovation with a p-value of 0.000. The study concluded that climate change has had an impact on Boran pastoralists’ forcing them to improve their existing drought coping mechanisms and adopt newly emerging strategies. Some of the key recommendations are increasing participation of pastoralist in development of pastoral policies, reducing obstacles that hinder pastoral mobility and strengthening of security and peaceful existence in Northern Kenya in order to enhance adaptation to climate change.

Keywords: Climate Change, Boran, Pastoralism, Pastoral Innovations, Merti, Kenya

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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