Coping with climate variability in West Pokot, Kenya: The influences of land use on responses to climate variability, by pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in arid and semi-arid areas of West Pokot, Kenya.
Many pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in semi-arid and arid areas in East Africa, face the challenge of climate change, while the pressure on land is increasing and at the same time land use changes are ongoing. This study focuses on the influences of land use change on the responses to climate variability, by applying the contextual vulnerability framework on the case study of West Pokot in Kenya for the comparison of pastoralist (mainly communal ownership of land) and agro-pastoralist (mainly privatised land) communities. The contextual conditions in which the land use change takes place and by which land use is influenced are analysed and divided into political and institutional structures, climatic variability and economic and social structures and their changes. Although there is a mutual influence of these changes and structures on the one hand and land use on the other hand, the findings of the analysis show that improvements initiated by these changes and structures favour the transition towards private ownership and lead to more economic opportunities that improve the possibilities to cope with climatic variability. This makes agro-pastoralist communities less vulnerable for climate changes. However, it complicates comparison of those communities and their responses as agro-pastoralist communities are ahead with regard to economic and living conditions. Nevertheless, all the strategies in both communities are focused on coping with general circumstances and climatic conditions that matter today and not on adaptation to climate change.