Climate Change Adaptation Strategies Adopted for Sustainable Livelihoods by the Pastoral Community in Narok County

J. Korir


Climate change is a global phenomenon that has posed complex challenges today. It is reported to impact negatively on both the economy and livelihoods of the population especially in the arid and semi-arid regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Narok County in Kenya is one of the regions that has experienced extreme weather events characterised by changes in the rainfall patterns and increased frequency and intensity of droughts over the past 50 years (GOK, 2010). These immense climatic conditions have threatened pastoral livelihoods in the County despite pastoralism having a great potential in contributing to household welfare. Despite this, no comprehensive studies have been conducted in the area on how the community can be involved in adaptation measures aimed at minimizing the effects of climate related shocks. The aim of this study was to assess and document efficient and effective adaptation strategies to climate change that are used by the pastoral community in Narok County in order to sustain their livelihoods. The author used descriptive survey design to achieve this objective while employing face to face interviews to collect primary data. The sample size comprised of 415 pastoral households identified through a multistage cluster sampling and simple random sampling techniques. The collected data was analysed using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) computer program and results were presented in using tables and bar graphs. Findings showed that the main adaptation strategies used by the pastoral community include; crop cultivation, livestock diversification, destocking, water harvesting, soil conservation, tree planting, and irrigation farming, among others. Consequently, policies that incorporate indigenous knowledge, promote community-led adaptation, effective and appropriate dissemination of climate-related information at the local level and those that provide access to relevant institutions should be formulated in order to enhance the resilience of pastoral communities to impacts of climate change.


Climate Change, Adaptation Strategies, Pastoral Community, Sustainable Livelihoods

Full Text:



Ayers, J. and Forsyth, T. (2009). Community-based adaptation to climate change. Environment: science and policy for sustainable development, 51(4), 22-31.

African Union (2010). Policy framework for pastoralism in Africa: Securing, protecting and improving the lives, livelihoods and rights of pastoralist communities. Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Balint, P. J. and Mashinya, J. (2006). The decline of a model community-based conservation project: Governance, capacity, and devolution in Mahenye, Zimbabwe. Geoforum, 37(5), 805-815.

Berhanu, W. and Beyene, F. (2015). Climate variability and household adaptation strategies in southern Ethiopia. Sustainability, 7(6), 6353-6375.

Bobadoye, A. O., Ogara, W. O., Ouma, G. O. and Onono, J. O. (2016). Assessing climate change adaptation strategies among rural Maasai pastoralists in Kenya. Am. J. Rural Dev. 4, 120–128.

Bohensky, E. and Lynam, T. (2005). Evaluating responses in complex adaptive systems: insights on water management from the Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (SAfMA). Ecology and Society, 10(1).

Bryan, E., Deressa, T. T., Gbetibouo, G. A. and Ringler, C. (2009). Adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia and South Africa: options and constraints. Environmental science & policy, 12(4), 413-426.

Bryan, E., Ringler, C., Okoba, B., Roncoli, C., Silvestri, S. and Herrero, M. (2013). Adapting agriculture to climate change in Kenya: household strategies and determinants. J Environ Manage, 114, 26-35. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.10.036

Campos, M., Velázquez, A. and McCall, M. (2014). Adaptation strategies to climatic variability: A case study of small-scale farmers in rural Mexico. Land Use Policy, 38, 533-540. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2013.12.017

Deressa, T. T., Hassan, R. M., Ringler, C., Alemu, T. and Yesuf, M. (2009). Determinants of farmers’ choice of adaptation methods to climate change in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia. Global Environmental Change, 19(2), 248–255.

Dube, T. and Phiri, K. (2013). Rural livelihoods under stress: The impact of climate change on livelihoods in South Western Zimbabwe, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, 3 (5), 11-25.

Egbe, C. A., Yaro, M. A., Okon, A. E. and Bisong, F. E. (2014). Rural peoples’ perception to climate variability/change in cross river State-Nigeria. Journal of Sustainable Development, 7(2), 25.

Fabricius, C. and Collins, S. (2007). Community-based natural resource management: governing the commons. Water Policy, 9(S2), 83-97.

Feleke, F. B., Berhe, M., Gebru, G. and Hoag, D. (2016). Determinants of adaptation choices to climate change by sheep and goat farmers in Northern Ethiopia: the case of Southern and Central Tigray, Ethiopia. SpringerPlus, 5(1), 1692.

Fischlin, A., Midgley, G. F., Hughs, L., Price, J., Leemans, R., Gopal, B., and Velichko, A. (2007). Ecosystems, their properties, goods and services.

Galvin, K. A., Boone, R. B., Smith, N. M. and Lynn, S. J. (2001). Impacts of climate variability on East African pastoralists: Linking social science and remote sensing. Climate Research 19,161-172.

Gbetibouo, G. A. (2009). Understanding farmers' perceptions and adaptations to climate change and variability: The case of the Limpopo Basin, South Africa (Vol. 849). Intl Food Policy Res Inst.

Gicheru, P., Makokha, S. N., Le, C., Gachimbi, L. N., Wamuongo, J. W., McNeil, D., and Brouwer, F. (2012). Land subdivision and degradation in Narok, Kenya. Land Use Policies for Sustainable Development: Exploring Integrated Assessment Approaches, 148.

GoK (2008). District Development Plan, Narok South. Government Printers. Nairobi

GoK (2010). National climate Change Response Strategy

(NCCRS). Government Printers. Nairobi

GoK (2013). First County Integrated Development Plan 2013-2017. Kenya: County Government of Baringo.

Hartmann, I., Sugulle, A. J., Awale, A. I., Mohamed, A. S. A., Awale, M. H., Samale, A. M., ... & Farah, A. I. (2009). The impact of climate change on pastoral societies of Somaliland. Candlelight for Health, Education & Environment, Hargeysa, Somalia

Hassan, R. and Nhemachena, C. (2008). Determinants of African farmers’ strategies for adapting to climate change: Multinomial choice analysis. African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2(1), 83-104.

Hein, L. (2006). The impacts of grazing and rainfall variability on the dynamics of a Sahelian rangeland. Journal of Arid Environments, 64(3), 488-504.

Hertel, T. W. and Rosch, S. D. (2010). Climate change, agriculture and poverty. The World Bank.

Hoffmann, I. (2010) Climate change and the characterization, breeding and conservation of animal genetic resources. Animal genetics, 41(sl), 32-46

Hulme, M., Doherty, R., Ngara, T., New, M. and Lister, D. (2001). African climate change: 1900-2100. Climate research, 17(2), 145-168.

Idris, A. (2011). Taking the camel through the eye of a needle: Enhancing pastoral resilience through education policy in Kenya. Resil. Interdiscip. Perspect. Sci. Humanit. 2, 25–38.

Iona, E. D. (2011). Changing Climate. A study of the challenge of Climate change and pastoralist livelihoods amongst the Waso Boren in Northern Kenya. Roskilde University.

IPCC (2007a). Climate Change 2007; The Physical Science Basis; Contribution of Working Group I tothe Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, S. Solomon,

D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller, eds., Cambridge University Press.

IPCC (2001). Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

IIRR, L. (2001). Enhancing Participation in Local Governance: Experiences from The Philippines, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction. Philippines–Canada. Local Government Support Programmeand SANREM CRSP. Southeast Asia. Philippines.

Kabubo-Mariara, J. and Karanja, F. K. (2007). The economic impact of climate change on Kenyan crop agriculture: A Ricardian approach. Global and planetary change, 57(3), 319-330.

Kamal, A. (2011). Vulnerability and Adaptation Strategies of Rural People to Climate Change in Mid-Hills of Nepal. Tribhuvan University, Institute of Forestry. Pokhara, Nepal

Kirimi, N., Mwangi, J. G. and Nkurumwa, A. O. (2013). Climate Change Challenges and Adaptation Strategies among pastoralists of Laikipia County. International Journal of Agricultural Extension, 45(1), 5-17.

Krejcie, R. V., Morgan, D. W. (1970). Determining sample size for research activities. Educ. Psychol. Meas. 30(3): 607-610

Lelenguyah, G. L. (2013). Effects of Climate Variability on Pastoral Livelihoods in Marigat District, Baringo County, Kenya. Unpublished Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies (Climate Change and Sustainability) in the School of Environmental Studies of Kenyatta University.

Little P., Smith, K., Cellarius, B. A., Coppock D. L. and Barrett, C. B. (2001). Avoiding disaster: diversification and risk management among East African herders. Development and Change 32, 387-419

Masika, R. (ed.) (2002). Gender, Development and Climate Change. Oxfam, Oxford.

McDowell, J. Z. and Hess, J. J. (2012). Accessing adaptation: Multiple stressors on livelihoods in the Bolivian highlands under a changing climate. Global Environmental Change, 22(2), 342-352.

McMichael, A. J., Haines, J. A., Slooff, R., Sari Kovats, R. and World Health Organization (1996). Climate change and human health: an assessment.

Mwebeza, R. and Kotzé, L. J. (eds) (2009). Environmental Governance and Climate Change in Africa: Legal Perspectives (ISS Monograph Series 167, Pretoria, South Africa).

Ndamani, F. and Watanabe, T. (2015). Farmers’ perceptions about adaptation practices to climate change and barriers to adaptation: A micro-level study in Ghana. Water, 7(9), 4593-4604.

Nkurumwa, A. O., Mwangi, J. G. and Kathuri, N. J. (2010). Livelihood diversification and enhanced food security through agro-pastoralism: Socio-cultural and other challenges among Maasai pastoralists of Narok North district of Kenya. Second RUFORUM Biennial Meeting 20 - 24 September 2010, Entebbe, Uganda

Nyong, A., Adesina, F. and Elasha, B. O. (2007). The value of indigenous knowledge in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in the African Sahel. Mitigation and Adaptation strategies for global Change, 12(5), 787-797.

Ogindo, H. O. and Otieno, A. W. (2009). “An assessment of drought induced vulnerability of the Turkana pastoralist community livelihoods in northern Kenya and its ability to cope with climate change”, Climate Change Adaptation in Africa Program 2009-10 Annual Report.

Orindi, A.O., Nyong, A. and Herrero, M. (2007). Pastoral livelihood adaptation to drought and institutional interventions in Kenya. UNDP Human Development Report 2007/2008.

Oxfam (2008). Survival of the fittest: pastoralism and climate change in East Africa. OXFAM Briefing Paper No. 116, OXFAM International.

Rakotobe, Z. L., Harvey, C. A., Rao, N. S., Dave, R., Rakotondravelo, J. C., Randrianarisoa, J., Ramanahadray, S., Andriambolantsoa, R., Razafimahatratra, H., Rabarijohn, R. H., Rajaofara, H., Ramesona, H. and MacKinnon, J. L. (2016). Strategies of smallholder farmers for coping with the impacts of cyclones: A case study from Madagascar. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 17, 114-122. doi:10.1016/j.ijdrr.2016.04.013

Rembold, F., Thomas, A. C., Nkunzimana, T., Pérez-Hoyos, A. & Kayitakire, F. (2014). Analysis of the food security situation in Kenya at the end of the 2013-2014 short rains season. Eur. Comm.

Republic of Kenya (2009). District Development Plan, 2008-2012: Narok North.Volume 40 of District. Ministry of State for Planning, National Development, and Vision 2030.

Roncoli, C., Okoba, B., Gathaara, V., Ngugi, J. and Nganga, T. (2010). Adaptation to climate change for smallholder agriculture in Kenya: community-based perspectives from five districts. University of Georgia report to the World Bank for the project “Adaptation to Climate Change of Smallholder Agriculture in Kenya,” June.

Saranta, M. (2013). Diversification of livelihood strategies among Isiria Maasai of Lolgorien ward, Narok County, Kenya (Unpublished thesis).

Schwarz, A. M., Béné, C., Bennett, G., Boso, D., Hilly, Z., Paul, C. and Andrew, N. (2011). Vulnerability and resilience of remote rural communities to shocks and global changes: Empirical analysis from Solomon Islands. Global Environmental Change, 21(3), 1128-1140.

Silvestri, S., Bryan, E., Ringler, C., Herrero, M. and Okoba, B. (2012). Climate change perception and adaptation of agro-pastoral communities in Kenya. Regional Environmental Change, 12(4), 791-802.

Steinfeld, H., Gerber P., Wassenaar, T., Rosales, M. and Haan, C. (2006). Livestock’s long shadow: Environmental issues and options. Livestock, Environment, and Development, FAO, Rome.

Suich, H. (2013). The effectiveness of economic incentives for sustaining community based natural resource management. Land Use Policy, 31, 441-449.

Vincent, K., Wanjiru, L., Aubry, A., Mershon, A., Nyangdiga, C., Tracy, C. and Banda, K. (2010). Gender, Climate Change and Community Based Adaptation. United Nations Development Programme, New York Google Scholar.

Westerlink, B. (1996). Local Participation in Ecotourism and Local Attitudes towards Conservation: A Case Study of Malindi National Park. (Unpublished Thesis), Wageningen Cultural University Centre for Tourism and Recreation Studies Climatic Change 43, 601–628, 1999. ©1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherland.

Wolfensohn, J. (1996). Crucibles of Development. Our Planet 8 (1). The United Nations Environment Programme Magazine for Sustainable Development. Nairobi, UNEP.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

© 2015 School of Environmental Studies all rights reserved. Permission should be sought from the publishers before any of this work or part of it is reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, microfilming and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system.