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Representing Wealth in a Changing Pastoral Economy: A Comparison of Traditional and New Metrics in Maasailand, Kenya

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East African pastoralism faces complex challenges. Responses include diversification and intensification strategies. Herd size as a measure of pastoral 'wealth' is hypothesised as insufficient to reflect emergent patterns of wellbeing. Wealth distributions of Maasai households are compared across four wealth metrics - highlighting different socio-economic criteria. Using Kappa statistics, a TLU-based 'wealth' distribution is compared to measures of: 1) qualitative wealth; 2) improved-breed TLUs; and 3) diversified wealth. Livestock remain important within this system. Trajectories of diversification and intensification for wealthy versus poor pastoral households emerged. Mixed methods for assessing wealth are necessary to understand livelihood changes and better target development.
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Keywords: Kenya; Livelihood diversification; Maasai; poverty; wealth

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-01-01

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  • Nomadic Peoples is an international journal published by the White Horse Press for the Commission on Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Its primary concerns are the current circumstances of all nomadic peoples around the world and their prospects. Its readership includes all those interested in nomadic peoples, scholars, researchers, planners and project administrators.
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