Who Survives Drought? Measuring Winners and Losers among the Ariaal Rendille Pastoralists of Kenya

  • Elliot Fratkin
  • Eric Abella Roth


In some respects nomadic pastoralists resemble most of our descriptions of hunter-gatherers. Like most hunter-gatherer groups, pastoralists use lands whose vegetation they only minimally manage: They graze their animals on wild grasses, shrubs, and, sometimes, fallow crop lands. On the other hand, like agricultural populations, pastoralists invest time and energy in the management of productive resources—their livestock. In 1984 northern Kenya was hit by severe drought which decimated herds. Fratkin and Roth describe how one population, the Ariaal, coped with drought and, more important, coped with governmental agencies that intervened to help them. The 1984 drought offered an opportunity to test the assumption that natural disasters or catastrophes level or diminish wealth inequalities among pastoral households. Moreover, the study offers insight into why many pastoralists try to maintain herds well above what is needed for subsistence.


Poor Household Herd Size Human Ecology Small Stock Large Herd 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliot Fratkin
    • 1
  • Eric Abella Roth
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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