The role of indigenous gums and resins in pastoralist livelihood security and climate change adaptation in Garba Tula area of Northern Kenya
by Yasin Mahadi, Jeremy Lind, Susan Wren and Lars Otto Naess
Agriculture – both livestock and crop farming – is by far the most important economic activity in Northern Kenya and is envisaged to remain a source of income and livelihood in rural areas. Unfortunately harsh climatic conditions prevailing in arid and semi-arid areas in Northern Kenya require strenuous efforts with large economic and technical investments to achieve successful agricultural development. On the other hand, woody vegetation resources that are indigenous in Northern Kenya could provide an additional opportunity for accelerated economic development. The study examined the role of gums and resins extracted from woody vegetation as an alternative or complimentary livelihood strategy to livestock keeping and enhancing adaptive capacity to climate change among the pastoralist communities in Garba Tula area of northern Kenya. The result shows that majority of the pastoralist derive financial gain from the collection of gums and resins which is mainly used in buying food, livestock, salt and drugs activities buttressing their continuing involvement in the livestock economy. Collection of gums and resins in the households is done by individual members with young people playing increasing role both in collection and marketing. Although gums and resins play an important role in pastoralist livelihood, the potential has not been fully realised. Among the contributing factors include lack of financial capital, transport, lack of sound market information to guide opportunities, trends and prices, lack of expertise to boost production, insecurity in the area and lack of policy and infrastructural support.
Although myriad challenges exist in the gums and resins sector opportunities are enormous. If sustainably exploited gums and resins can increase household income and accelerate economic development in the area, create new jobs and complimentary/alternative livelihoods for the pastoralists in Northern Kenya. Value addition, training local communities on ways of increasing production and strengthening local knowledge and indigenous plant based activities can be linked to international programmes to realise full benefits from gums and resins sector in northern Kenya.