Modelling the impacts of group ranch subdivision on agro-pastoral households in Kajiado, Kenya

Thornton, P K
BurnSilver, S B
Boone, R B
Galvin, K A
Agricultural Systems
Publication Year: 
Pastoral communities in East Africa are facing considerable challenges arising from shifts in land tenure policy from communal to individual landholdings and high human population growth rates. Over the last 30 years, livestock-to-human ratios have generally declined to levels that will no longer support pure pastoralism. Many Maasai have thus diversified into cultivation, wage labour, and small businesses. Livelihood expectations are rising, with concomitant increases in the need for cash. We describe the modification of PHEWS, a simple rule-based model that tracks cash flow and calories in agro-pastoral households. We use it, coupled to Savanna, a sophisticated ecosystem model, to quantify some of the effects of subdivision and land fragmentation on household livestock numbers and on food security. For the group ranches simulated, model outputs indicate that subdivision results in substantial reductions in livestock numbers, partially because households have to sell more animals to generate the cash needed, with serious long-term consequences on herd sizes and food security. If subdivision occurs, even to parcels as large as 196 km2, livelihood strategies may need to be modified to maintain current levels of household well-being. Model results have been discussed in community meetings in southern Kajiado, but more work is needed on communication mechanisms to utilise more effectively the results of imperfect but useful integrated assessments of complex problems concerning land use and human well-being.
Name of Journal: 
Agricultural Systems
Resource Type: 
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.