Livestock Raiding Among the Pastoral Turkana of Kenya: Redistribution, Predation and the Links to Famine

  • Dylan Hendrickson
  • Robin Mearns
  • Jeremy Armon
Volume 51 Number 1A
Published: May 27, 2020

The long‐persisting and erroneous conception of famine among the pastoral Turkana of Kenya as an essentially ‘drought‐driven’ event has given way to growing recognition today of the key role which livestock raiding plays in the breakdown of coping strategies. However, this article argues that the phenomenon of cattle raids per se is not the problem. Rather it is the fashion in which raiding has been transformed over the years, from a quasi‐cultural practice with important livelihood‐enhancing functions, into more predatory forms driven by an economic logic and modern forms of violence. This article seeks to understand predatory raiding and its effects in terms of the changing functions which raiding serves within pastoral society and, increasingly, outside it. The article uses a model of armed conflict and livelihood vulnerability to illustrate how violence and the threat of violence interact with drought to undermine the coping strategies of herders.

From Issue: Vol. 51 No. 1A (2020) | Fifty Years of Research on Pastoralism and Development