Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program


University of California at Davis

Publication Date



The Waso Boran of northern Kenya used to have large, mobile, and diverse herds of livestock that exploited equally large and diverse rangelands. Forty years of human population growth, drought, environmental change, and lack of relevant policies have altered this situation, however, with the majority of Waso Boran today being livestock poor and engaged in a variety of non-pastoral activities to diversify their livelihoods. One-third of 540 households we surveyed in Isiolo District now have ten head of cattle or less, and a larger census suggests that only 15 percent of households can currently be categorized as mobile pastoralists. The largest category, in contrast, is represented by urban dwellers (51 percent of households) that raise livestock in more sedentary production systems. To cope with livestock poverty many people pursue endeavors such as petty trade, wage employment, and farming, as well as the collection and sale of firewood and wild products. These activities heavily involve women. Dealing with such large changes is difficult, but it is recommended that policy makers focus on land use policy to help protect remaining grazing lands from encroachment by cultivators, and that women be a focus of capacity building by development agents to increase the scope for livelihood diversification efforts.