Livelihoods Zoning "Plus" Activity in Kenya

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Livelihood Zone 1: Northwestern Pastoral Zone

The North‐Western pastoral zone has a hot climate, with temperatures of between 240C and 380C and an annual average of 300C. Rainfall is bimodal, erratic and unreliable. The short rains (April‐July) and the long rain season (October‐November) average 300mm‐400mm of rainfall yearly. The rain falls in brief, violent storms resulting in floods. The surface runoff and potential evaporation rates are high.

The inhabitants of this zone are generally from the Turkana ethnic group. The majority of the residents (95%) are nomads, while 3% are internally displaced persons and 2% fully settled in the LZ. The households mainly engage in livestock husbandry, trade, hunting and gathering for food and cash income. The overall pastoralist population can be broken down into the following wealth groups.

Most of the food commodities consumed by the households are sourced from the markets. The most common food purchased is maize. Other purchased food includes rice, wheat, fish, beans and sorghum. The better off live largely from their animals with around 60% of food coming from meat or milk. Middle households receive less than half their food needs from their livestock, including both meat/milk and grain from traded animals. Poorer households have such small herd sizes that own livestock production makes up less than 10% of food needs. Wild foods were extremely important seasonally to all wealth groups. Those who are enrolled on cash for work projects (CFW) are able to meet half their food needs from aid – a combination of food distributions, school feeding and food purchased with CFW money.

Livestock and livestock products are the main source of income for the better off. The middle and poorer households sell bush products (charcoal, poles, etc.) and rely on social support for income. CFW contributes to mainly the middle and poor income and ensures that these households protect their asset base. Middle and better off households have similar expenditure patterns: purchasing mostly food, as well as trading goats for clothes and beads, health care and household goods.

Aid dependency is very high and most households cannot cope without aid, even during a non‐crisis year. Poorer households cannot depend on pastoralism for their livelihoods. Coping mechanisms, such as increasing charcoal sales, are not sufficient to compensate, since the market is so limited. Markets function inefficiently. Maize prices are twice the national average, and goat prices are low. Transport costs do not account for the discrepancy. There is high insecurity and conflict incidences with neighbouring communities occur frequently: herds are stolen and people killed. Essential dry season grazing lands in the north are inaccessible. There are no alternative livelihoods. Education and skill levels are very low for employment.