Ariaal Pastoralists of Kenya: Studying Pastoralism, Drought, and Development in Africa’s Arid Lands (Cultural Survival Studies in Ethnicity and Change) by Elliot. Ariaal pastoralists of Kenya: studying pastoralism, drought, and development in Africa’s arid lands. Responsibility: Elliot M. Fratkin. Edition: 2nd ed. The Ariaal, a nomadic community of about people in northern Kenya, have been seized on by researchers since the s, after one.

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Book Reviews Andargachew’s book provides an essential background study for any further analysis of contemporary Ethiopian politics. Aeiaal recently the study of pastoral societies has been a neglected field. The Sahelian drought of the kenha s and early s, however, gradually turned the attention of researchers towards pastoralists and the role they could play in national development.

Unfortunately, many of these studies and projects were biased against pastoralists and the pastoral way of life. Pastoralism was seen as a backward and anachronistic system of production. The pastoralist was also seen as an avaricious herder, only interested in increasing the size of his herds causing desertification. In the last few years, a few other works have challenged this paternalistic view.

Ariaal people – Wikipedia

Elliot Fratkin’s Surviving Drought and Development is one such monograph. Since the s, Fratkin has conducted research among the Ariaal, a livestock pastoralist group in northern Kenya.

The book is divided into eight chapters. Fratkin shows that both the missions as well as the UNESCO-IPAL projects were hastily carried out without taking into account the objective condition of the region and the needs of the pastoralists.


Fratkin plausibly argues that although the missions had rendered important services in education, health and infrastructural development their short-sighted goal of “settling” the pastoralists in an area where the rain fall is less than mm per year created the dependence of many pastoralists on relief-food and facilitated Book Reviews the impoverishment and vulnerability of the pastoral communities.

For different reasons, the various Eknya projects failed in their goal of saving the desert ecosystem and integrating the pastoral people into the market economy, basically because they started from the premise that pastoral production was primitive and incongruous in the modern world and hence had to be replaced by sedentary agriculture. The failure of these projects was aptly summarized by one of Fratkin’s Rendille informants who remarked: Fratkin offers more reasonable approaches to development in pastoral areas.

He stresses the need on the part of governments and agencies concerned xriaal pastoral development to shed their bias against pastoralists and to accept that “Pastoral production systems are the results of generations of adaptive behaviour and knowledge by populations in Arid Lands” p.

Fratkin also argues for increased access to veterinary services by pastoralists, expansion of conservation programs, pastorallists spread of water wells rather than having them in a few places and curtailing the movement of pastoralists, expansion of market infrastructures and involving pastoralists in development projects which affect them rather than looking at pastoralists as “objects to be changed, to be developed, to be saved” p.

If these proposals rather than forced sedentarization schemes are carried out, Fratkin is optimistic that things would not “necessarily fall apart” for the pastoral communities. Fratkin has included a number of photographs, figures, tables and maps in his book that strengthen his arguments. With the exception of minor typographical errors Surviving Drought and Development is a well researched and produced book that should be read by pastoral development planners krnya they set out to implement projects in pastoral areas.


Ariaal people

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