Maasai communities in Kenya adapting to climate change by adopting smart-agriculture practices
In the Rift Valley, in the rain shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro and close to the border with the United Republic of Tanzania, the Maasai groups of Naishorua, Silale, Menjele, Innkarukok olmane and Olroup live in the heart of Kenya’s Maasai Land: the Kajiado County, with its dryland conditions and semi-arid climate. The livelihoods of the Maasai groups depend on nomadic pastoralism to a far greater extent than on crop and livestock production. Traditionally, the men take care of the cattle and the women practise subsistence agriculture.
Heavily dependent on rainfed conditions, pastoral lifestyle is highly vulnerable to climate change and the resulting hazards of drought, increased temperatures and soil moisture stress. Reduced annual rainfalls exacerbate the challenges related to water scarcity and pasture degradation, threatening the traditional Maasai pastoral lifestyle and related livelihoods. Today, Maasai men must leave their families for longer and travel further in search of pasture and water resources for their livestock, thus contributing to the increased transboundary movement of various animal herds in the region.
Using their observation and understanding of the changing weather patterns, these pastoral communities have been seek- ing to adapt to the ever-changing climate in an a empt to protect their livelihoods and lifestyle.
Among these local nomadic popula ons, two key figures, Ryan and Paul, from
the village of Enkorika, Kajiado County, have been instrumental in helping their communities cope with the negative effects of drought and water shortage.
Ryan Kotene is a 50-year-old Maasai whose lifestyle has changed signi cantly over the years. First a traditional pastoralist, he later became a semi-se led agro-pastoralist; today, he is a local key actor in agricultural extension services for his community. He is a husband and is a father to five children: two boys and three girls.