Less livestock wealth, means less chance of access to arable land, grain production and friends. Kenyan and Dutch researchers Adano Roba and Karen Witsenburg have discovered that this is the hard truth faced by poor households in North Kenya. They therefore argue that poverty alleviation measures should also focus on guaranteeing better prices for livestock and a broader approach to developing drylands.
Between 1997 and 2000, Adano Roba and Karen Witsenburg studied the life and welfare of nomadic livestock herders in the area around Marsabit Mountain in North Kenya. They discovered that the number of animals has a major influence on access to important sources of help. The more animals a household has, the greater claim his family can make on social networks within the wider family, the clan and the village. Also, the people with larger herds receive more land and higher incomes, with which they can purchase grain for example.
The researchers demonstrated that extremely poor families in particular, earn money by selling wood and charcoal. This tree harvesting has a detrimental effect on the water supply, as forests protect the watershed and retain the water in the soil. Without forests in the neighbourhood there is a threat of rain-fed agriculture and critical water shortages in the long term. As soon as these poor people can obtain income from other activities, they become less dependent on the National Park on Marsabit Mountain. According to Roba and Witsenburg, measures to protect the National Park would also be more effective if these people could obtain incomes from other sources and if they are involved in decision-making processes of forest resource use.
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