An evaluation of indigenous knowledge and sustainable pastoral production in arid and semi arid lands:a case of Laikipia district, Kenya
Author(s)Muiruri, Patrick Ngwiri
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AbstractThe SF 140.P38M8
Whereas Indigenous knowledge Systems (IKS) is a relatively well studied topic in many parts of the world, including Africa, very little research has been undertaken to address its role in human development in East Africa. Furthermore, virtually no research has been conducted on the role of IKS in pastoral production in the Ea,t Africa's Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs). In addition, while pastoral production is increasingly becoming unsustainable in many parts of ASAI,s, the role that IKS can play in mitigating this challenge is not well understood. The purpose of the study w,-Is to investigate the use of Indigenous Knowledge in the communal and commercial ranches in Laikipia District, North Central Kenya, and how it affects food security and livestock production. Specific objectives of the study were: to identify and explain the various indigenous knowledge approaches used by the traditional Maasai pastoralists in anirrtal husbandry, to establish the indigenous knowledge strategies that the commercial private ranches have adopted in resource use and conservation, and to explore productivity and Interchange of strategy and technology between commercial and communal ranches. The overall methodology to the study was qualitative. Case studies and scenario analysis were the main techniques used in the study. These were supplemented by use of semi-structured interviews; life histories, participant observation, specified transect walks, and digitzd photography. Purposive sampling and snowballing was used to identify those who are familiar with specific indigenous knowledge. Community members of three communal ranches and Lolldaiga Commercial Ranch were interviewed. Five key informants gave detailed ethnographic interviews in each case. Descriptive analysis was used to present the results. The various production practices in the communal and commercial ranches were documented. Transhumance based on the availability of fodder and water was seen to be practised in both types of ranches. Ethnoveterinary practices were noted to be strongly evident and practiced in the communal ranches. The communal ranches have adopted use of improved bulls, provision of water and use of modern medicine. The commercial ranches rely on the indigenous knowledge of the herders in disease detection and animal restraining techniques. They rely on the local indigenous herders to carry out cattle and camel herding and milking. They further utilize the traditional Maasai culture of the Boma system in securing the pastoral animals. Both communal and commercial ranches acknowledge that wildlife is part of the ecosystem and is important in maintaining ecological balance. Indigenous knowledge is relevant and can be used to secure food security and be used for environmental conservation. This is seen in the pastoral production systems in both communal and commercial of ranches. Key recommendations include: the need to `retool" indigenous knowledge towards food security and sustaimable pastoral production in communal ranches; diversification of economic opportunities for pastoralists; and boosting of institutions at the local level to help communities maintain access to resources.