Skip to main content

The Mismeasurement of Cattle Ownership In Namibia's Northern Communal Areas

Buy Article:

$21.43 + tax (Refund Policy)

The standard approach to measuring livestock ownership in pastoralist communities relies on an assumption of uniformity that does not reflect the diverse concepts of ownership held by pastoralists themselves. In Namibia's Koakaveld Region, Himba and Herero pastoralist communities have a rich vocabulary for categorising the origins, usage rights and cultural valence of their cattle. Drawing on both authors' experience overseeing a large-scale rangeland management programme evaluation in Namibia's Northern Communal Areas – and one author's experience growing up in and keeping cattle in a Himba pastoralist community – we show how the standard approach to measuring cattle ownership undermines accurate estimates of livestock wealth, off-take and inequality, and obfuscates pastoralist's strategies for turning ecological variability to their advantage. We conclude with lessons about how multi-dimensional data collection methods improve upon the standard approach to livestock ownership measurements.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • 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.
  • Submit a Paper
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content