Embracing uncertainty: what Kenyan herders can teach us about living in a volatile world
Samuel Derbyshire, 2023 research fellow at Jameel Observatory, shares insights and experiences from his field research in the Tarkana region of northern Kenya. He discusses the longstanding environmental challenges facing pastoralist communities in the area and the more recent shift in approach from the research and development communities, to focus not on the resulting uncertainties these challenges bring, but rather on the ways that dryland communities are already managing these uncertainties. Highlighting several examples of effective community response and adaptation, Samuel suggests that the rest of the world may have lessons to learn from Turkana about dealing with environmental, economic and political uncertainties.
In his essay, Samuel writes, "Of course, societies across the developed world are not going to abandon industry and commerce to take up semi-nomadic pastoralism any time soon. But this is not the point. The point is that whether we like it or not, many in the west are now charged with the task of remaining productive during a period of environmental, political and economic turbulence that seems more pronounced than ever before. So why not look to Turkana for some guidance?"