Vulnerability to climate change and conflict, its impact on livelihoods and the enjoyment of human rights : case study: pastoral communities in Northern Kenya (Turkana, Pokot and Samburu Districts)
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The relationship between climate change and conflict is a complex one. Violent conflicts involving pastoralists have become widespread and increasingly severe in the North Rift and North Eastern regions of Kenya. This study examines the factors contributing to such conflicts, and discusses issues and priorities for conflict prevention and peace building. The pastoralists in the three districts under study are largely nomadic. They live primarily in arid or semi-arid areas and depend on livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and camels) for their livelihood. They rely on access to pasture and water, for the survival of their livestock. Such resources are scarce and under increasing pressure. Conflicts involving pastoralists associated with resource competition, cattle rustling and wide availability of small arms are widespread and of increasing concern. This Study thus provides a useful case to examine in depth factors contributing to conflict, issues and priorities for conflict prevention. This study also looks at how the livelihoods of pastoralists in Samburu, Pokot and Turkana is vulnerable to climate change and conflict and ways in which these systems adapt to these conditions. The last part of this work looks briefly at how climate change and conflicts affect human security. Conflicts interfere with human rights like the right to life, the rights to adequate housing, the right to health and the right to food. It discusses briefly how these rights are directly affected when a society is hit by climatic changes like droughts or floods. The study uses interviews, semi-structured and focus group interviews to gather data from local communities, government officials and experts. It also uses secondary data from published and unpublished sources and systematically analyzes this material using qualitative analysis. The result shows that climate change is evident in the three districts in Northern Kenya. There’s evidence of decreasing precipitation and increasing temperatures. Drought and unpredictable rainfall have impacted greatly on the people’s livelihoods and this has resulted to migration, overpopulation and resource conflicts. The vulnerability of pastoralism to climate change and conflict is further worsened by the fact that this way of life is greatly marginalized. They receive no support from the government and this just worsens the situation. Some of the coping strategies that have been applied are mobility, trading, crop farming is slowly being introduced, and drought resistant livestock like camels and goats are slowly being kept. This paper suggests ways to reduce vulnerability thus ensuring that people’s rights are not violated.