Although long perceived as a beacon of development in East Africa, recent violence has made visible the political instability of Kenya. Cattle raiding, while originally a traditional mechanism of acquiring bridewealth and redistributing resources, has become increasingly commercialised involving actors outside the pastoralist community and increasingly violent with the proliferation of small arms.
Particularly in remote regions of the Horn of Africa, seasonal variability, external intervention and insecurity have impacted traditional coping strategies of pastoralist communities resulting in increased vulnerability to food insecurity, famine and destitution. It is often stated that formal policies have marginalised pastoralists and forced them into more intensive cattle raiding while weak customary governance mechanisms have failed to manage these and other natural resource conflicts. However, customary conflict management mechanisms are poorly understood and the role of civil society in natural resource conflict management has largely been overlooked.
There are calls within the literature for future research to focus on both formal and informal institutional arrangements for conflict management and to investigate the role of human agency in natural resource conflict in order to manage conflicts before they become intractable.
Project Completion Report 2013:
The project was framed through a human security perspective as the data generated highlighted the interconnected nature of cattle rustling with other forms of natural resource conflict suth as human-wildlife conflict and farmer-herded conflict, and the links between conflict, security and development.
The overall objective of the project was to investigate the institutional and individual perceptions of cattle rustling in Laikipia. The project used the lens of human security to investigate the nexus between development, governance and security in relation to cattle rustling and its connection to other natural resource conflicts, specifically human-wildlife conflict and agro-pastoral conflict. Throughout the year, 5 articles have been submitted for peer-refiew, a presentation was made at an international conference, and the PhD was successfully defended.