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Human Ecology–Political Economy Nexus of Drivers of Drought-Vulnerabilities on Maasai Pastoralists’ Coupled Social-Ecological System in Kenya
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Volume 5, 2018
Issue 3 (September)
Pages: 74-86   |   Vol. 5, No. 3, September 2018   |   Follow on         
Paper in PDF Downloads: 235   Since Oct. 19, 2018 Views: 1566   Since Oct. 19, 2018
Margaret Mwangi, Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University & SESD, State College, University Park, USA.
Maasai pastoralists subsist on rainfall-dependent livelihood production system in the savanna rangelands of East Africa. This study explores drought-ravages on the system of Maasai-pastoralism in Kenya, a strongly coupled social-ecological system, using an integrated approach. Proximate and underlying drivers of drought-vulnerability in Maasai-pastoralism are explored; drought-disaster/risk trajectory is conceptualized in a nexus approach. The current study reveals drought-ravages on Maasai-pastoralism are generated at the confluence of multiple inextricably interlinked variable and historically-contingent societal—mainly this system’s human ecology factors coupled with cross-scale political economy within which it is embedded, and is in constant flux—climatic, and ecological factors, processes, contexts, and their interactions. Operating through various interactions/feedbacks, diverse proximate and underlying social-biophysical drivers occasion drought-vulnerability. Persistent and growing livestock-based wealth-class divide is rapidly imprinting on Maasai-pastoralism under recurrent drought conditions. Drought-ravages in Maasai-pastoralism are contextual manifestations; the present drought-event is only partially responsible for the same. Over 90% observed impacts are devastative, and were trivial, even non-existent, in the past. Persistent, even rapid, deleterious impacts of climate change alongside cross-scale permeation of and shifts in diverse socioeconomic/sociopolitical globalization factors, processes, and their interactions constitute additional challenges on Maasai-pastoralism. Thus, apropos Maasai-pastoralism, a paradigm shift vis-à-vis drought-adaptation and/or drought-disasters reduction becomes necessary. This study cast useful insights into the landscapes of drought-ravages on Maasai-pastoralism in Kenya, and indeed similar systems across the Greater Horn of Africa, where droughts are recurrent, drought-adaptive capacities low, drought-disaster/risk persistent, and drought-vulnerable landscapes predominate. Overall, it should be clear: the necessity for practical bridging of research-policy-practice divide cannot be overemphasized.
Drought, Drought-Impacts, Drought-Disasters, Drought-Vulnerability, Maasai-Pastoralism, Climate Change, Maasai Pastoralists, Disaster/Risk Trajectory, Drought-Ravages
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