Analysis of constraints to expanded livestock production in Kenya's Maasailand


Material Information

Analysis of constraints to expanded livestock production in Kenya's Maasailand
Livestock production in Kenya's Maasailand
Physical Description:
xi, 595 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Evangelou, Phylo, 1950-
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Animal industry -- Kenya   ( lcsh )
Livestock -- Marketing -- Kenya   ( lcsh )
Maasai (African people) -- Economic conditions   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1984.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 555-594).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Phylo Evangelou.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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notis - ACL1846
oclc - 11422034
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Full Text







Copyright 1984


Phylo Evangelou

This dissertation is dedicated to my parents, Paul

and Mary Fillo, for their love and guidance. Their

support during this final period of formal studies has

been an ever present comfort and reminder to do my best.


I wish to thank the members of my committee for their

guidance and suggestions. In particular, I am grateful to

Dr. James Simpson for the patience and scholarly

persistence with which he advised me at each step of the

research and writing.

This work could not have been accomplished without the

generous help of members of the Kenya Country Programme of

the International Livestock Centre for Africa. Many

individuals contributed to the success of my field

research, from drivers and office personnel to the Country

Team Leader, Dr. Solomon Bekure. The selfless assistance

given me by Paul Chara and Peter Lembuya Ole Kapiani

deserves special recognition.

I am grateful to Dr. Hugh Popenoe and Dr. Chris

Andrew of International Programs, Institute for Food and

Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, for having

awarded me funds to travel to and from Kenya, and for

providing me with additional financial assistance.

A special note of thanks is due Adele Koehler for the

care with which she typed the tables and bibliography,

and Kim Feigenbaum, for preparing the excellent set of

maps. The dissertation is enhanced by the high standards

of their work.

Finally, heartfelt appreciation is extended to Kenyans

with whom I associated, especially the Maasai producers,

for the forbearance with which they accepted my research

inquiries and, in so many instances, for offering the hand

of true friendship.





ABSTRACT . . ... ix



Statement of the Problem. . 3
Objectives. . . 22
Hypotheses. . .. .23
Methodology and Approach. . .. .24
Dissertation Outline. . .. .32
Note. . . .. 34


The Pastoral Mode of Production .. .36
Population Pressures. . 43
Interventionism in Kenya. . .. .60
Pastoral Transition . .. .79
Conclusions . . 84


Pricing and Marketing Policies and a
Changing Livestock Industry .
Disease, Breeding, and Wildlife Interventions
Conclusions . . .

CHANGE . . .

Maasai Pastoral Economy . .
Forms of Tenurial Change . .
The Group Ranch Problem . .
Conclusions . .
Notes . . .


Locations and Selection of Samples and
Data Collection . .








The Kajiado Group Ranch (KGR) Sample .. 185
The Kajiado Individual Ranch (KIR) Sample. 200
The Western Narok Producer (WNP) Sample. 213
Conclusions. . ... .229

SAMPLED UNITS. . ... 231

Production Unit Budgets. ........ .231
Production-Marketing Levels and
Relationships. . .. .251
Conclusions. . 257


Assessing Market Performance .. .260
Interregional Cattle Trading .. .262
Intraregional Trading. . 282
Conclusions. . ... 291


Overriding Constraints to Maasailand's
Livestock Development . 302
Effective Pastoral Intervention. .. .313
Summary and General Applicability of
the Approach . .. 329
Note . .... .. 336




TRANSITION . ... 352

CHANGE . ... 376





BIBLIOGRAPHY. . ... .. .555




AAME active adult male equivalent
AFC Agricultural Finance Corporation
AI artificial insemination
ALDEV African Land Development program
ALMO African Livestock Marketing Organization
AU animal unit
CBPP contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia
ECF East Coast fever
GDP gross domestic product
ha hectare
ILCA International Livestock Centre for Africa
kg kilogram
KGR Kajiado Group Ranch
KIR Kajiado Individual Ranch
KLDP Kenya Livestock Development Project
km kilometer
KMC Kenya Meat Commission
Ksh Kenya shilling
LE livestock equivalent
lit liter
LMD Livestock Marketing Division
mm millimeter
mt metric ton
RMD Range Management Division
S-C-P structure-conduct-performance
SEAZ Small East African Zebu
SSU standard livestock unit
W&M White and Meadows [1981]
WNP Western Narok Producer


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Phylo Evangelou

April, 1984

Chairman: W.W. McPherson
Cochairman: James R. Simpson
Major Department: Food and Resource Economics

Demographic and economic forces are generating major

changes for Kenya's pastoral Maasai. The pastoral mode of

production will not support projected populations in the

near future, given Maasailand's resource base. As it is,

population pressures have led to overuse and deterioration

of the rangeland in many areas. At the national level,

there is a rapid growth in Kenya's demand for meat. Only

by the transition from a principally subsistent to a

commercial orientation can expanded production and

beneficial resource management be attained. Constraints

preventing this transition are the focus of this


A continuum of constraints are examined in a systems

context, from pricing and tenurial institutions at the

macro level, to production and marketing activities at the

micro level. The detrimental impact on livestock

production of meat price controls is described, and

examples of the significance of prices to structural

market changes are presented. Other current areas of

direct governmental intervention--livestock marketing,

disease control, breeding, and wildlife management--are

then considered.

Analysis of tenurial change centers on the group

ranch, both as a concept and operating entity. Reasons

why group ranches have been unsuccessful in achieving

increased production are examined.

At the micro level, three samples of producers,

differing by tenure system (communal vs. private) and

ecological setting (semiarid vs. semihumid), provide a

primary data base. Incomes, expenditures, and marketing

practices are examined by means of budgetary analysis.

Average land and livestock productivities are derived and

hypotheses concerning productivity-investment-marketing

relationships are tested.

The relative efficiency of local-level livestock

trading is considered in terms of the structure-

conduct-performance model. From analysis of costs and

returns of sampled traders and butchers, it is concluded

that marketing mechanisms are operating relatively


Limitations to expanded livestock production in

Maasailand are foremost institutional. In particular, meat

price controls and the lack of control by producers over

resource use in the communal tenure system are identified

as overriding constraints. Recommendations are that

(i) price controls be removed, or at least relaxed,

and (ii) micro-level intervention be selective, with

efforts concentrated on producers able and willing to

enforce controlled resource use.


Two facts are immediately confronted when one

considers the current economic situation and development

prospects of Subsaharan Africa (South Africa excluded).

First, it is one of the poorest regions of the world, with

a per capital annual income of only $329 in 1979 [IBRD

1981]. Secondly, Subsaharan Africa's population is the

youngest (45 percent under 15 years of age) and fastest

growing (3 percent per year) of any region in the world

[UN, Department of International Economic and Social

Affairs 1981]. Low levels of production and high

population growth rates have combined to severely hinder

the region's agricultural development. During the 1970s

food production actually declined 1.1 percent per capital

annually, and an estimated one-third of the people suffer

malnutrition due to inadequate food supplies [Lofchie and

Commins 1982; Walters 1982].

The livestock industry, in particular, has recorded

one of the most unsatisfactory performances of any

subsector of the African economies. The continent

contains one-fourth of the world's grasslands and

one-eighth of its cattle, but beef production per hectare

(ha) is only one-fifth and milk production one-tenth of

the world averages. Average productivity per animal is


equally discouraging, with beef production two-fifths and

milk production one-fifth of the world averages [Crotty

1980]. It is not surprising that meat production per

capital is decreasing when these low levels of production

are considered in conjunction with the continent's rapid

population growth rate. By the year 2000, Subsaharan

Africa's estimated meat deficit will equal three million

metric tons--68 percent of total production (including

poultry and pork) in 1980--if present trends continue [FAO

1982a; ILCA 1980a]. Livestock inventories will need to

double by the year 2000 simply to maintain current per

capital consumption levels, assuming there are no increases

in animal productivity [Simpson 1984].

In the midst of such dismaying conditions, the

underexploited productive potential of range areas,

regions mainly utilized by largely self-sufficient,

nonmarket oriented pastoral peoples, is increasingly

attracting the attention of national governments

[Institute for Development Anthropology 1980; Ruthenberg

1980a]. The nutritional needs of burgeoning populations

make the expansion of livestock production in these areas

imperative [Ayre-Smith 1976; Unesco/UNEP/FAO 1979], and

yet pastoral systems are characterized as "production

systems in a waiting room of development," the presumption

being that "development must be expected to set in

elsewhere" [Jahnke 1982, p. 103]. The challenge lies in

disproving this presumption by overcoming the constraints

which currently prevent expanded livestock production in


pastoral areas. One of the countries faced by this

challenge is Kenya, where a principal focus of livestock

development efforts is the pastoral region called


Statement of the Problem

Kenya's Livestock Sector

Slowed growth and expanding demand. Kenya is

situated on the east coast of Africa and has a land area

of about 570,000 sq km, nearly the size of Colorado and

New Mexico combined (Fig. 1.1). Its reputation among the

nations of Subsaharan Africa as having a relatively

healthy economy is by and large well-earned, but problems

have mounted in recent years. A decade of commendable

advance following the country's independence 20 years ago

has been succeeded by a second decade of economic


Between 1964 and 1972, Kenya's gross domestic product

(GDP) at constant prices grew at a rate of 6.8 percent per

year, with an annual rate of increase per capital of

between 3.5 and 3.8 percent [Hazlewood 1979]. Succumbing

to the worldwide economic recession of the 1970s, this

rapid rate of growth could not be sustained, except during

1976-1977 when there were exceptionally high export prices

for coffee and tea. In 1979 the GDP grew at a rate of 3.1

percent (in constant prices), and in 1980 at 2.9 percent,

both below the nation's population growth rate [Kenya,

Ministry of Economic Planning and Development 1980a;

International Monetary Fund 1982].

Despite developmental priority having officially been

given to agriculture [McChesney 1980], urban-rural

developmental inequities have grown, and Kenya's domestic

terms of trade have turned increasingly against

agriculture and in favor of industry [Gaile 1976; Sharpley

1981]. The nation's development bias toward industry was

largely fueled during the 1960s and early 1970s by an

expanding agricultural base. However, during the past

decade it has been difficult to maintain even existing

levels of agricultural production. In recent years Kenya

has fallen from agricultural self-sufficiency to become an

importer of basic foodstuffs, with 350,000 metric tons

(mt) of maize, 118,000 mt of wheat and 13,000 mt of milk

powder imported during 1981.

Kenya's economic stagnation, and agricultural decline

in particular, is reflected in the recent history of the

nation's livestock industry. At the beginning of the

1970s, the World Bank concluded that "in general it can

therefore be confidently projected that Kenya will

continue to meet the effective demand for beef and will

continue to have exportable surpluses of beef in the form

of meat or live animals" [IBRD/IDA 1972, p. 28]. By 1980,

the marketed supply of carcass beef barely exceeded

domestic demand, with supply estimated to be 140,000 mt,

and demand 135,000 mt. According to the Kenyan


Government's own projections, by 1990 the demand for beef

would likely increase to 228,000 mt, while "beef

production may in fact decline from present levels by 1990

unless the present production systems, technologies, and

policies are changed" [Kenya, Republic of 1980a, p. 9].

A rapidly expanding population, expected to double

from 16 to 34 million between 1980 and 2000 [Henin 1981],

and increasing incomes underlie the growth in demand for

meat, especially beef. Regressing consumption per capital

on disposable income, price of beef, a composite price of

other meats, and time, Kivunja's [1978] double logrithmic

model of the demand for beef yielded an R2 value of 0.984,

with the following elasticities of demand: income, 1.676;

price, -0.311; and cross price (composite of mutton, goat

meat, and pork prices), 0.132. The increase in demand for

meat may have decelerated over the past decade, as the

climb in personal disposable incomes has slowed. However,

given the population's rapid rate of growth, this respite

cannot be expected to last, especially as the country's

economy revives. In considering Kenya's potential for

meeting the expanding demand, it is instructive to examine

the country's ecological setting as well as current trends

in the supply and demand for meat.

Eco-climatic potential. Kenya's ecological diversity

may be classified into six zones, based on a moisture

index [Pratt and Gwynne 1977]. While each of the zones

can be described in terms of natural vegetation type and

agricultural potential, the defining feature is moisture

availability, "the most potent environmental factor in

East Africa" [Pratt and Gwynne 1977, p. 41]. The

geographical configuration of the zones is shown in Fig.

1.1 and relative proportions of the country's total area

are listed in Table 1.1.

Eco-climatic Zone I occurs at very high altitudes. A

minute portion of Kenya is classified as Zone I land, and

the only importance of these places to the nation's

livestock industry is indirect as water catchment areas.

Eco-climatic Zone II, at elevations below those of Zone I,

is characterized by a humid to dry semihumid climate, and

its productive potential lies mainly in forestry or

intensive agriculture. Similar production possibilities

hold for Eco-climatic Zone III, in which a dry subhumid

climate is found. Zones II and III constitute Kenya's

higher-potential areas, which are principally settled and

cultivated by smallholders. Cropping is the dominant

activity of these mixed farming systems, with livestock

enterprises centering upon milk production both for home

and for market. However, beef produced by the dairy stock

of these farmers does constitute an important share of the

country's meat supply.

The semiarid savannas and woodlands of Eco-climatic

Zone IV are marginally cultivable at best, and thus best

suited for livestock-based production systems. Generally

less than 4 ha are required per stock unit, except where

dry seasons exceed six months. (The standard stock unit

is assumed to equal a 450 kg steer, having a daily dry



7- 2

2 Uganda


Tanzania KAJIADO

Eco-climatic Zones

4S Pat IV n [ .S

III l V oVI 0o0 1o ;.1..

0 50 100 150 kilometer
District Boundary

36' 38- 40o 42'E

Figure 1.1. Eco-climatic zones on Kenya

Source: Pratt and Gwynne [1977], Map 1.

Table 1.1. Kenya's eco-climatic proportions

Eco-Climatic Zone

Proportion of Kenya's Area





V 52

VI 20

Source: Senga [1976].

matter requirement of about 10 kg.) The actual

productivity of livestock operations depends on local

plant and soil compositions. Despite low and erratic

rainfall, Zone IV areas have increasingly come under

cultivation due to population pressures, with misuse of the

land frequently leading to environmental degradation

[Lynam 1978; Porter 1965].

Eco-climatic Zone V comprises lands more arid than

those of Zone IV. Acacia and allied genera are dominant

and perennial grasses are widespread but readily disappear

when mismanaged. Livestock production is the most

appropriate activity, with generally more than 4 ha

required per stock unit. More arid still are the very dry

lands of Eco-climatic Zone VI where the vegetation is

mainly annual grasses. Camels are the livestock species

best accommodated in Zone VI, although cattle and small

stock (sheep and goats) are also herded. These

lower-potential Zones IV, V, and VI comprise Kenya's

rangelands, broadly defined as "land carrying natural or

semi-natural vegetation which provides a habitat suitable

for herds of wild or domestic ungulates" [Pratt and Gywnne

1977, p. 1]. Zones V and VI, in which the cultivable

potential is virtually nonexistent, assuming irrigation is

not feasible, are the areas principally inhabited by


A country's eco-climatic conditions provide the

fundamental opportunity set for its agricultural

activities, particularly for systems which utilize low


levels of purchased inputs. Even when the marginally

cultivable Zone IV lands are excluded, over 70 percent of

Kenya is characterized by low livestock carrying

capacities (Table A.1). In other words, Kenya has a large

resource base favoring land-extensive livestock production

systems. These rangelands have provided the ecological

foundation of Kenya's pastoral economies and will be

increasingly depended upon to supply livestock for the

national market, given the country's mounting population

and shifting patterns of meat production and consumption.

Changing production and consumption patterns. Kenya's

estimated 11.5 million cattle and 9 million small stock are

raised in a variety of environments and systems. Using

the Government of Kenya's broad classification of

agricultural producers, suppliers of livestock may be

categorized as "large farm," units greater than 8 ha,

usually in better-watered areas; smallholderr," units less

than 8 ha, also usually in better-watered areas; and

"range," commercial and subsistence rangeland producers.

With the additional classification of "urban areas"

(Nairobi and Mombasa) and "exports" as nonsupplying

sources of demand, the country can be partitioned into

areas producing more livestock than is consumed (meat

surplus) and those consuming more than is produced (meat

deficit), with slaughter stock moving accordingly. The

estimated shares of beef supply and demand in 1975

following this classification are shown in Table 1.2.


Table 1.2. Kenya's beef production and consumption, by type
of holding and destination, 1975

Production Consumption

Quantity Proportion Quantity Proportion

Smallholder areas

Large farm areas

Range areas

Nairobi and



-1000 mt- --percent-- -1000 mt- --percent--

102 71 93 65

22 16 11 8

19 13 10 7








Source: UNDP/FAO [1979], Tables 1 and 2.


Smallholders, that is, mixed farmers principally

located in the more densely populated Zones II and III,

are the major producers and consumers of beef. However,

the net surplus production by smallholders is dwindling as

the populations (food demands) of these areas increase and

livestock enterprises give way to the cultivation of

crops. The amount of land available for grazing is

expected to decline nationally about 3 percent between

1975 and 1990, but this reduction will entail a 14 percent

decline in total carrying capacity since the withdrawal of

land from grazing will mainly affect the higher-potential

areas of the smallholders [Kenya, Republic of 1980a].

While surplus meat production in the smallholder

areas is projected to decline, Kenya's urban population is

expected to increase eightfold between 1980 and 2000

[Ominde 1979]. Meat consumption per capital in Kenya's

urban areas is three times that of smallholder areas,

making rapid urban growth all the more significant to the

livestock industry's future [Kenya, Ministry of Agriculture

1978]. The decline in higher-potential grazing land,

consumption of smallholder production increasingly by

themselves, and the rapid expansion of demand in urban

areas are prompting Kenya's growing reliance upon the

surplus production of its pastoral range areas. Yet, these

areas have the lowest commercial offtake rates in the

country (Table A.2), with a large share of the stock

slaughtered never entering market channels [FAO/IBRD



Over the past 20 years, Kenya's production per capital

of beef, mutton, and goat meat has remained essentially

unchanged at 14 to 15 kg (Table A.3) [FAO 1978, 1979,

1982a]. However, simply to maintain this relatively low

level of production per capital will be difficult, given

the projected doubling of the country's population by the

year 2000. Production increases due to larger livestock

inventories alone is not a realistic possibility. Kenya's

small stock numbers have not increased since the

mid-1960s, and while the national cattle herd has grown,

the number of cattle per person has declined from 0.74 in

1966 to 0.67 in 1981 (Fig. 1.2). To meet the expanding

demand requires higher levels of productivity per animal

and per ha, and higher rates of offtake in Kenya's

pastoral areas.

Maasailand's Transition

Location and eco-climatic setting. A major pastoral

area of livestock production is Kenya's Maasailand, a

region which extends over 40,000 sq km (7 percent of

Kenya's total land area) along the Tanzanian border (Figs.

1.1 and 1.3). Though the Maasai people inhabit northern

Tanzania as well, "Maasailand" as used here refers only to

that portion of their land located in Kenya. Eco-

climatically the region can be roughly divided into

dissimilar halves which approximately match the

administrative units of Narok District on the more humid








Figure 1.2.

Sheep and

1971 1976


Cattle and small stock per capital, Kenya,

Source: Table A.3.



* I

o on

/ 0
0 I

0 -


0 0 S
0 f

/ E E

Cu u


western side, and Kajiado District, to the more arid east

[Griffiths 1962; Ominde 1968]. The eco-climatic

distinctiveness of the two districts is evident in Table

1.3 and Fig. 1.1. Ninety-five percent of Kajiado District

falls within the semiarid Zones IV and V, while most of

Narok District lies within the higher-potential Zones II

and III.

Precipitation records support these eco-climatic

differences. The mean and range in annual rainfall

recorded at various stations within and near Maasailand

are listed in Table 1.4, with the locations of the

stations indicated in Fig. 1.3. Though the driest areas

are underrepresented, the rainfall measures exemplify the

spatial and temporal variations in precipitation. Only two

areas in Kajiado District, at the foot of Mount

Kilimanjaro and near the Ngong Hills (Fig. 1.3), receive

levels of rainfall suitable for crop cultivation [Wales

and Chabari 1979]. In contrast, most of Narok District is

cultivable, and wheat and barley especially have become

important crops in the better-watered sections of the

district. Hence, Maasailand has a heterogeneous resource

base which overall holds great productive potential. This

capacity for expanded livestock production is already

beginning to be tapped.

Livestock production. Two-thirds of the beef

consumed in Nairobi, as well as most of the capital's

mutton and goat meat, comes from Maasailand, attesting to

the urban dependency upon pastoral production described


Table 1.3. Eco-climatic settings of Kajiado and Narok

Proportion of Area

Kajiado Narok
Eco-Climatic Zone District District


II 1 38

III 1 21

IV 36 36

V 62 5

Source: Kenya, Ministry of Economic Planning and Community
Affairs [1979a].


Table 1.4. Rainfall record within and nearby Maasailand

Annual Rainfall

Recording Stationa n Min Max Mean Median


1. Kisii 66 390 4,203 1,783 1,780

2. Kaboson (Sotik) 19 624 1,468 950 895

3. Narok Town 57 351 1,360 744 740

4. Karura (Nairobi) 65 520 1,626 908 874

5. Machakos 83 404 1,584 918 879

6. Magadi 43 153 1,233 494 454

7. Namanga 27 167 1,179 645 584

8. Kajiado Town 46 153 1,181 510 460

9. Simba 44 173 1,338 612 528

Source: Bille and Heemstra [1979], Table 2.

aNumbers correspond to station locations in Fig. 1.3.

Years recorded.


above [UNDP/FAO 1980]. However, increased demand at the

national (urban) level is not the only reason production

must expand. Within Maasailand, deteriorating ecological

conditions and an increasingly inadequate subsistence

orientation also underscore the need for change. Pressures

on land, leading to environmental degradation and

diminishing levels of welfare, are undermining the Maasai

pastoral mode of production which historically supported a

sustaining, if underproductive, economy. Increasing

population densities and concomitant socioeconomic

disruptions have resulted for the Maasai in what Jacobs

describes as "an insidious decline in their total

situation," his prognosis being that "indeed, viewed in

historical perspective, the immediate future of Maasai

pastoralists appears bleak as well as obscure" [1975, pp.

418, 421]. The pessimism expressed by Jacobs conveys

the urgency, intraregionally, of overcoming the

constraints which limit Maasailand's livestock production.

A decade ago the proportion of Kenya's pastoralists

categorized as poor was larger than that of any other rural

group (Table A.4). There is no reason to assume that this

position of poverty has changed since, under present

pastoral livestock production systems, growth prospects

for areas such as Maasailand are nil [de Montgolfier-

Kouevi and Vlavonou 1981]. However, the rangelands offer

great scope for increasing livestock production once the

transition is made to market oriented production systems

[IBRD 1977]. Rising consumption demands and land use


pressures make it imperative that the transition process

be facilitated by development interventions designed to

encourage the shift by Maasai pastoralists to increased

market participation.

The transition process is fraught with obstacles and

truly involves fundamental change, given the distinctly

different objectives and practices which characterize

pastoral and market oriented stockraising systems. Market

oriented systems depend upon input and output markets, and

are generally associated with private access to resources.

Ecological limits may be significantly modified through

technological innovation. Accumulation of wealth derives

from returns exceeding costs of production and growth,

from reinvestment of net revenue in the enterprise.

Livestock are a means of maximizing net returns to the

factors of production. In pastoral societies such as that

of the Maasai, resources are communally held and

ecological constraints are little modified. Markets in

factors and products are appendages to the system, and the

selling of an animal is often due to necessity rather than

by plan [Dahl and Hjort 1976; Doherty 1979b]. Livestock

are repositories of value and the spur to livestock

accumulation is underproduction for the market [Ingold

1980; Schneider 1981a].

Despite such differences between the pastoral and

market oriented modes of production, the transition from

the former system to the latter is occurring. Yet,

interventions intended to facilitate the transition in


other pastoral areas of Subsaharan Africa have led to

controversial conclusions regarding economic and social

costs and benefits [Behnke 1982; Frantz 1981; Werbner

1980]. For example, with respect to the development of

market oriented ranches in Botswana, Hitchcock challenges

measures used to substantiate their desirability over

traditional systems. He concludes that "in the long run

commercial ranches are likely to be less profitable than

the long-standing cattle system in Botswana" [Hitchcock

1980, p. 171], despite empirical evidence supporting the

greater productivity of fenced ranching [Rennie et al.

1977]. Livestock development strategies in Maasailand

will be pursued with confidence only if the net benefits

for Maasai producers as well as for other Kenyans are made


In sum, a common problem of livestock sectors of

developing countries is said to be their continual

struggle to balance supply and demand [Harrington 1976].

Kenya's balancing of meat production and consumption can

be translated into a single objective: expansion of the

nation's meat supply in the hope of keeping pace with an

inexorably rising demand. Unless conditions constraining

livestock production levels in pastoral areas such as

Maasailand are overcome, the required supply of livestock

will not be forthcoming, and projected meat deficits for

the nation will become a reality. Moreover, pastoral

peoples like the Maasai will suffer a general decline in


welfare as population pressures invalidate traditional

production regulating relationships.

For Maasailand's livestock production to expand, the

overriding constraints need to be accurately identified

and evaluated, in order that effective interventions can

be implemented. As the Kenyan Government itself

acknowledges, "the greatest challenge that lies ahead now

is in developing the appropriate mechanisms for

implementing the [country's livestock development]

projects" [Kenya, Republic of 1980a, p. 53]. Developing

appropriate mechanisms depends ultimately upon a clear

understanding of the constraints. Livestock production

constraints and development alternatives for Kenya's

Maasailand are the issues addressed in this dissertation.


The analysis of factors constraining livestock

production in Maasailand must be undertaken on several

planes. A wide range of influences require consideration,

from Kenya's development policies, to tenurial conditions

in Maasailand, to the management practices of Maasai

pastoralists and ranchers. In recognition of the broad

scope of the problem, the following objectives are set


1. Identify and evaluate factors exogenous and

endogenous to the production unit which constrain the


transition in Maasailand from subsistence to commercially

oriented livestock production. This objective entails

a) consideration of the history of the transition

process, in terms of principal components and their


b) examination of national policies and activities, in

particular price controls, which influence the process,

c) investigation of the influence of regional

economic, sociocultural and tenurial conditions upon the

process, and

d) analysis of (i) producers' production and marketing

practices and productivity levels, and (ii) the efficiency

of local-level livestock marketing mechanisms.

2. Recommend policy changes which could lead to

increased livestock production in Maasailand by

facilitating the transition from subsistence to market

oriented production.


The following hypotheses will help guide the

micro-level analysis of constraints to livestock

production in Maasailand.

1. Average productivities per livestock unit for

private and group owned ranches in similar eco-climatic

settings in Maasailand do not differ significantly.

2. Private control of resources is not a sufficient

condition for production to become primarily market


oriented; that is, levels of marketing activity--the

value of all livestock and livestock products sold in one

year relative to total holdings--do not differ

significantly between private and group owned ranches.

3. Average productivities per livestock unit and per

land unit are positively correlated with levels of

marketing activity.

4. Average productivities and levels of production

expenditure are positively correlated.

5. The local-level trade in livestock tends toward

relatively efficient levels of performance.

Methodology and Approach

The focus of study is the process of change from

subsistence to market production in Kenya's Maasailand and

factors constraining this process. Objectives have been

set forth on several levels and, consequently, the method

of study must be multi-faceted as well. Central to the

methodology followed is a farming systems perspective of

the problem [Shaner, Philipp, and Schmehl 1982]. Pastoral

livestock systems are comprised of interacting

environmental, biological, cultural and economic factors,

and an analysis of constraints that does not include a

consideration of the interrelationahips of these factors

is unlikely to lead to useful policy recommendations for

increasing production [Fitzhugh and Byington 1978; Jahnke

et al. 1978; Levine and Hohenboken 1982; Winrock


International 1981]. Within the systems perspective,

attention must center upon the production unit (household

or ranch), that is, the decision-making body with regard

to livestock production and marketing practices and,

secondarily, upon the livestock trader, who plays the

principal marketing role at the local level. In addition,

consideration of regional socioeconomic circumstances needs

to be included in the analysis, if the existing system is

to be fully understood [Little 1984].

Various techniques have been developed and refined

for the examination of production constraints [Arnold and

Bennett 1975; Upton 1973]. Unfortunately, conventional

programming tools frequently used in systems analysis are

neither practicable nor appropriate for this study, given

data limitations and the sociocultural aspects of the

problem. It is well to preface a description of the

chosen approach by an explanation of why standard

quantitative techniques are not used.

Conventional Methods of Analysis

Acquisition of the necessary data for econometrically

modelling Maasai production and marketing practices would

be a formidable undertaking. Wolgin [1973] was able to

estimate production functions and investigate production

constraints for smallholders in Kenya by using survey data

gathered on 1,500 farms by the Government of Kenya. No

such informational base is available on Maasai producers.


Moreover, a model statistically representative of Maasai

production would need to be based on data from different

production systems, from commercially oriented private

ranches to subsistence oriented pastoral households.

Additional extensive sampling would be required for

incorporation into the model of local-level marketing

mechanisms. The resources to obtain a sufficient quantity

of programmable data were simply not available.

A more fundamental obstacle to the use of standard

econometric techniques stems from the model's

specification. Evaluation of activities in nonmarket

oriented systems is complicated by the diversity of

producers' motivations and objectives [Ntalaja 1973].

Studies such as Heyer's [1971] discount the significance

of nonmarket criteria in production and marketing

decisions. In her linear programming analysis of farmer

production in a district of Kenya bordering Maasailand,

Heyer simply assumed that the farmers' objective was to

maximize farm output valued at market prices. Decisions

not to sell were attributed to unattractive prices, and no

social or cultural constraints were thought sufficiently

important in influencing production decisions to be

included in the analysis. The assumption that

sociocultural factors are insignificant to production

decisions may be valid for some farming populations in

Kenya, and also for livestock producers in other settings,

as in McGrann's [1973] linear programming analysis of

opportunities for increasing cattle production in


Argentina. However, social and cultural conditions may

well be prominent among factors impeding expanded

production by pastoral peoples [Jahnke et al. 1978; Mariam

1981]. Criteria conventionally considered noneconomic are

therefore considered integral to the analysis of

production constraints in Maasailand.

Simulation models are frequently employed when goal

specification is difficult [Day and Sparling 1977; Rausser

and Johnson 1975], especially as a tool for policy

planning and macro-level forecasting in the analysis of

developing agricultural economies [Halter, Hayenga, and

Manetsch 1970; Slater, Walsham, and Shah 1977]. Campbell

and Palutikof's [1978] model of land use conflicts and the

ranch management and herd growth models developed by

Keddeman [1979] and Konandreas and Anderson [1980]

illustrate simulation techniques which have been used to

examine range development issues in Kenya. Again, a large

data base (or sizable number of parametric assumptions) is

required, and the difficulty of accounting for social

issues and cultural factors which influence production and

marketing practices remains [Gadourek 1976].

Chosen Methodology and Approach

Recognizing the limitations of conventional

techniques and the need for a relatively low-cost, policy

oriented method of analysis, constraints to expanded

livestock production in Maasailand are identified and


evaluated level by level rather than by constructing a

single econometric model. Using secondary data, national

policies and programs, and regional socioeconomic

conditions are analyzed as institutions currently

delimiting Maasai production possibilities [Parsons and

Smelser 1956]. The issues of productivity and efficiency

are then addressed using primary data collected from

sampled production units and market participants, in

explicit acknowledgment of the necessity for a

disaggregated approach at the micro level [Dalton 1971].

The focus throughout is upon effects, responses, and

activities at the producer level, since as Hageboeck et

al. [1979] note, it is at the micro level that one gains

insight into the process of change.

The major issues examined at the national level are

the impact upon the transition process of the Government

of Kenya's livestock and meat pricing policies and the

influences of various forms of intervention, including

marketing, disease control, breeding, and wildlife

management. At the regional level the sociocultural

characteristics of the Maasai household economy and the

impact of changing tenurial conditions are the principal

areas of attention. This examination of the national and

regional contexts in which the Maasai producer operates

underscores the invalidity of considering the individual

producer as a decision-making isolate and sets the stage

for the subsequent micro-level analysis of producer and


trader behavior [Bennett 1978; Ferguson n.d.; Godelier

1972; Stanfield 1979].

Three samples of Maasai livestock production units,

distinguished by tenurial and ecological characteristics,

are the basis for the micro-level analysis of production.

Sample selection and survey methods are described in

Chapter V and, therefore, are only summarized here. One

sample consists of households living on communally owned

ranches, called group ranches, located in a semiarid part

of Kajiado District. The livestock production and

marketing practices of these households typify those of

the majority of Maasai producers. Data were collected

from these households by Maasai enumerators, under the

supervision of the author and other personnel of the

International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), on

incomes, expenditures, livestock transactions, livestock

management practices, and labor activities. In addition

milk offtake and calf and small stock growth rates were

periodically recorded for selected herds and flocks. These

data provided the basis for construction of representative

production budgets and calculation of costs and returns of

livestock production.

Owners of nine individual (private) ranches comprise

the second sample of Maasai producers, also located in

Kajiado District. As with the sample of group ranch

producers, the objective was to gather information on

livestock production and marketing, for the derivation of


production budgets. Data were obtained on these ranches

by personal interview.

The third sample, located in a more humid region in

western Narok District, includes three small-scale

producers operating on communally owned land and two

larger-scale private holders. Information on these

production units was also obtained by personal interview.

The sample site was chosen so that the effects of the

region's higher productive potential on the transition

process could be examined.

Neither this third sample nor the one composed of

private ranchers is large. However, analytical

deficiencies due to the samples' small sizes are

compensated by the specificity of the data and diversity

of sample units included. As Morris [1981] notes with

respect to most agricultural research on management and

production, simply averaging results usually disguises the

most interesting information. The objective here is to

reveal the particular circumstances limiting expanded

production by examining what producers do, not what they

should do [Brown 1979].

Relative efficiency is the issue of central concern in

the analysis of local-level livestock trading. Are, for

example, marketing inefficiencies preventing increased

livestock production in Maasailand? Assessment of market

performance in Maasailand centers upon the practices of

sampled livestock traders and local-level butchers, with

the aim of clarifying the "obscure interaction" [Lele


1975] between traditional and modern marketing

institutions. As detailed in Chapter VII, the analysis is

approached in terms of the structure-conduct-performance

model originally developed in the study of industrial

organization, with resulting qualitative inferences

regarding performance reconsidered in terms of traders'

and butchers' actual costs and returns. Information on

sources and destinations of livestock, price margins,

trading costs, and slaughter weights were obtained by the

author from livestock traders operating in the vicinities

of the first and third producer samples described above.

Time-series data on the transactions of sampled traders

and additional cross-sectional data have permitted

computation of trading margins. Transactions of

local-level butchers were also recorded, providing insight

into the small stock trade, since sheep and goats are the

species usually slaughtered locally.

The overall methodology and approach constitute a

step-wise consideration of the continuum of constraints

preventing expanded livestock production, from an

assessment of macro-level issues using secondary data, to

an analysis of micro-level production-marketing behavior

based on primary data collected through survey and

personal interview. An ordered set of policy changes

is then proposed, based on the analysis of these data and

given the forces of tradition and change which currently

permeate Maasailand [Galaty 1981c; Gruchy 1976]. In sum,

principal constraints exogenous and endogenous to the


production unit are determined, and recommendations for

overcoming these constraints are set forth.

Dissertation Outline

Chapter II comprises a review of problems associated

with pastoral development, reaffirming the necessity for a

systems approach. Inadequacies of the pastoral mode of

production in the face of increasing land use pressures and

food demands, and the general failure of past

interventions, are described. Using past and current

events in Kenya, and particularly in Maasailand, the

thesis that development efforts must facilitate

pastoralists' transition to increasingly market oriented

livestock systems is presented.

National policies and activities influencing the

transition process are addressed in Chapter III. A

principal objective of the Government of Kenya is increased

stratification of the nation's livestock industry, but

actual policies implemented have had, at best, mixed

effects. The significance of prices to market structure

is analyzed. Meat price controls, especially, have

obstructed growth and development, and their effects on

Kenya's livestock industry and Maasai producers are

examined. Other areas of governmental intervention

affecting Maasai producers which are considered include


livestock disease control, marketing, breeding, and

wildlife management.

Chapter IV is devoted to an examination of factors at

the regional level influencing the transition process.

Attention is first centered upon the principal components

of the Maasai pastoral economy. Tenurial changes

presently occurring in Maasailand are then reviewed, with

the group ranch, both as a concept and operating entity,

the principal topic.

In Chapter V the three samples of Maasai producers

considered in the micro-level analysis are introduced.

Principal characteristics of the samples and distinctions

within and between them are presented. Drawing from the

discussions in Chapters III and IV, national and regional

influences are highlighted, and constraints to increased

commercial production are qualitatively evaluated.

Productivities and levels of marketing activity of the

sampled production units are analyzed in Chapter VI.

Incomes, expenditures, and marketing practices are

examined by means of budgetary analysis. Average land and

livestock productivities are derived and hypotheses

concerning productivity-investment-marketing relationships

are tested.

Local-level livestock trading is addressed in Chapter

VII. Livestock markets and operations of traders and

butchers in producer sample areas are analyzed. Traders'


profit margins and operating costs are estimated in an

assessment of technical and price efficiencies.

In Chapter VIII the overriding constraints limiting

expanded Maasai livestock production are specified, based

on analysis in previous chapters. Potential avenues of

development are proposed, and policy guidelines for

facilitating the transition to market oriented production

are recommended.


In some of the referenced sources, Maasai and
Maasailand are spelled as Masai and Masailand. These
spellings are left unaltered where they appear in the
bibliography and quoted passages.


An analysis of constraints hindering the transition

of the Maasai pastoral economy to a market oriented

production system requires an understanding of both the

basic components of pastoralism and the problems which

have been encountered in the implementation of pastoral

interventions. The purpose of this chapter is to present

the elements and interactions that are keys to this

understanding. In the first section the traditional

economic objectives of pastoral producers are discussed.

Immediate and longer-term subsistence requirements of

pastoral households are shown to have led to livestock

management strategies in which the market plays but a

peripheral role. The counterproductive effects of

communal grazing practices in discouraging investment and

encouraging the overexploitation of resources are then

described. Population pressure is identified as having

irremeably disrupted a once viable, if underproductive,

livestock system.

The historical development of pastoral

interventionism is addressed in terms of the Kenyan, and

particularly the Maasai, experience. Pastoral

interventions during the colonial period, and the course

of rangeland development since independence as reflected



in the Kenya Livestock Development Project, are reviewed.

The general lack of success of pastoral interventions, in

Maasailand and elsewhere, is discussed, and the thesis that

interventions need to be designed explicitly to promote the

transition to increasingly market oriented production is

set forth.

The Pastoral Mode of Production

Pastoralism involves the subsistence oriented

management of livestock grazing a natural resource base.

Ingold [1980] describes it as an appropriative mode of

production with pastoralists dependent upon the products

of their livestock which, for the Maasai, are principally

milk from cattle and meat and fat of small stock. Thus,

the pastoralist's assets are of two types, livestock and

grazing rights [Barth 1964]. While each pastoral society

is unique, common economic characteristics, from the

mobility necessitated by a reliance upon natural grasslands

to the primacy of livestock accumulation, have resulted in

a degree of homogeneity among pastoral peoples

[Goldschmidt 1979].

Production is governed by private ownership of

livestock and common access to the resource base,

institutions which are intrinsic to pastoralism's economic

structure. As one authority notes:


At the lower level is the production unit,
formed by a set of humans owning and responsible
for managing a set of animals by which they are
fed. .At the upper level is the resource
allocation unit, which is defined more by
territory (as a function of resource density
and fluctuation probabilities) though it has
an associated population. [Dyson-Hudson 1980a,
p. 13]

Despite the implied distinction between product

appropriation and command over resource use, "ultimately,

the production units have autonomy to operate how they

like, and to take the consequences of doing so"

[Dyson-Hudson 1980a, p. 14].

Pastoralism in Africa cannot be considered apart from

its principally semiarid to arid environment. While

ecological conditions do not determine a society's form,

they do place demands upon its social and economic

structure [Bonte 1981; Dahl 1979]. The ecological demands

are major for pastoral economies, dependent as they are

upon a variable and limited resource base [Kenworthy

1971]. Annual rainfall in pastoral areas is usually below

500 mm, and its incidence, spatially and temporally, is

highly unpredictable [Helland 1980a]. The vulnerability

of the pastoral mode of production to resource uncertainty

is manifested in a cyclical rise and fall in the welfare

of pastoral peoples: "The inevitable failure of the rains

which brings heavy loss of livestock and grave danger to

human lives; the probable better year or two when losses

are recouped and the next disaster is prepared for,

economically and psychologically" [Gulliver 1978, p. 204].


Notwithstanding their distinct, largely ecologically

conditioned mode of production, pastoralists have the same

overall objectives as all peoples: material well-being,

agreeable social relations, security and power [Ruthenberg

1980a]. Material well-being for the pastoral household

depends upon its viability, defined by Helland as "the

capability to derive a livelihood from the herd on a

sustained basis" [1978, p. 79]. Production must equal or

exceed consumption, unless other pastoral households are

willing to subsidize it. Given the unpredictability of

the resource base, viability can best be assured by owning

large numbers of animals, hence the propensity for

livestock accumulation. The successful pastoralist is the

successful accumulator of livestock [Gulliver 1978].

Viability is the pastoralist's principal concern,

while secondary objectives generally contribute--and rarely

contradict--strategies for its maintenance [Almagor 1980].

In other words, economic and noneconomic motivations

underlying pastoral activities commonly are mutually

supportive. The prestige acquired through the increase of

one's livestock holdings is one of the more obvious

instances of this interrelationship. There may be

occasions in which ritual obligations override near-term

economic considerations, but even then the social

relationships forged or strengthened are likely to be

economically beneficial in the long run [Baxter 1975]. As

Horowitz [1979] explains, when a pastoral household has

more livestock than it can reasonably manage, there are


two options: it can sell or consume them, or it can convey

them to other persons, thereby converting animals as

economic goods into social and political obligations from

which there may be future economic returns. In sum,

social and economic success depends upon the accumulation

of livestock, with exchange and other types of livestock

transaction basic to the process of accumulation [Brown

n.d.; Dahl 1981; Galaty 1981d; Helland 1980e; Jacobs

1965]. In the words of Goldschmidt:

In pastoral societies, a successful career is
built upon the acquisition of animals which are
to serve as the basic source of subsistence, as
a measure of personal status, as the basis upon
which influence and power in the community is
established, and as the means of projecting social
status and influence into the future through the
acquisition of wives, and hence sons, and also
through the establishment of personal obligations
that assure protection against the vicissitudes
of old age. Thus all the potential satisfactions
of social life hinge upon the acquisition of an
adequate supply of animals. [1979, p. 22]

Other practices in addition to livestock accumulation

help assure viability, from species diversification and

the spatial dispersion of livestock, to the keeping of

predominantly female herds and flocks. Pastoralists, as

portfolio managers conscious of the benefits of owning a

diversified set of assets, will frequently keep sheep and

goats as well as cattle. Goats, for example, are more

efficient converters of plant matter than cattle, are

generally more resistant to drought, have shorter

reproductive cycles and potentially higher rates of

offtake, and possess other traits which strengthen the


household's viability during periods of stress [Chemonics

International Consulting Division 1977; ILCA 1980c; Jarvis

1974; Livingstone 1977; UNDP/FAO 1979; Wilson 1982]. Herd

dispersion is widely practiced as a precaution against

local disease outbreak as much as against the vagaries of

weather [Dahl 1979; Eidheim and Wilson 1979]. Herds

composed primarily of females not only ensure a greater

probability of growth and adequate milk supplies, but also

more rapid post-drought recovery [Campbell 1979b; Dahl and

Hjort 1976; Semenye 1980]. In addition, deferred grazing

arrangements and numerous other, often subtle livestock

management practices underlie pastoralists' capacity to

adaptively utilize their widely variable resource base

[Awogbade 1979; Peacock, de Leeuw, and King 1982].

Periods of drought, unpredictable yet inevitable, are

the times in which viability strategies are most

rigorously tested. For Maasailand, the most serious

drought in recent history occurred in 1960-1961, a period

of natural disaster prolonged by subsequent torrential

rains when the cattle population of Kajiado District, for

example, plummeted from about 630,000 in 1960 to 200,000

in 1962. Yet following this disaster the rate at which

herd numbers rebounded was almost as astonishing as their

precipitous decline. Cattle numbers are estimated to have

doubled in three years to 429,000 in 1965, and recovered

to pre-drought levels in seven years [Meadows and White

1979]. The rapid rate of recovery may be largely

attributed to the good grazing conditions which prevailed


in 1963 and 1964, but pastoral herd structures and Maasai

management practices, especially the preferential care

given young females during the drought, undoubtedly

accelerated recovery.

Droughts accentuate the fluctuating interaction

between a pastoral population and its natural environment,

a relationship dependent upon the size of the human

population, the size and structure of herds and flocks,

and the capacity of the environment to provide adequate

water and forage [Western 1982]. As long as fluctuations

in herd size do not exceed an ecologically set upper limit

or fall below a lower limit set by subsistence

requirements, viability is maintained. Notably, however,

the pastoral household exerts little direct control over

this balance between livestock numbers and available

grazing. In place of control one finds reliance upon

processes of anticipation and response typical of

preindustrial societies, that is, adjustment mechanisms

which are flexible and easily abandoned, low in capital

requirements, and which depend upon action only by small

groups [White 1974].

The characteristic of a minimal degree of control over

productive resources extends beyond environmental factors,

as suggested by pastoralists' low levels of investment in

livestock and labor, system components over which they

have some command [Jarvis 1980]. It has been posited

that a low investment level is the dominant trait of

pastoral economies [Schneider 1979]. This reliance upon


adjustment processes rather than control measures is a

successful strategy so long as there is an adequate

communal resource domain. Thus, human and animal

population densities are the crucial parameters. If a

region's pastoral population remains relatively static, or

its growth can be accommodated by territorial expansion,

production can be sustained. But when there is population

growth without territorial expansion, or worse, a

reduction in territory as has taken place in Maasailand,

the pastoral mode of production becomes destructive to

both its environment and society.

In the end, persistence through time has been the

singular achievement of the pastoral strategy throughout

Subsaharan Africa [Dyson-Hudson 1980b]. Given the

productive variability of the resource base and the

negligible control pastoral peoples have been able to

exert over it, this achievement is not trivial. But

persistence through time is no longer sufficient given the

production demands increasingly placed upon pastoral

regions of the continent. Direct and opportunity costs of

the pastoral production mode as population pressures

mount, in misuse of range resources and livestock

production foregone, are becoming greater than Kenya and

the other nations of Subsaharan Africa can afford to bear.


Population Pressures

As explained in Chapter I, a rapidly increasing

population density--for Kenya in general and Maasailand in

particular--will inevitably necessitate changes in

production practices. Traditional Maasai producers will

face an ever greater struggle simply providing for their

own households, let alone expanding meat production to

meet the demands of the larger Kenyan society. Because

the population and land pressure issues are of utmost

significance to Maasailand's current economy and future

options, they are discussed here in greater detail.

Ecological Balance

Pastoralism, as depicted in the preceding section, is

abstracted from the processes of change set in motion by

increasing population densities [Konczacki 1978; Ominde

1971]. As described, in the absence of technology for

increasing productivity, the environment sets a limit on

herd size, and ultimately on the size of the subsistent

human population [Swift 1975]. This limit is determined

by the land's carrying capacity, a complex and highly

variable property, influenced by climate, soil and plant

compositions, livestock management practices, and other

factors. If a pastoral population grows but cannot expand

spatially, the land will come under increased pressure,

until a "critical population density" is reached [Helland


1980a]. The population exceeds this limit only to the

detriment of the resource base, that is, in reducing the

area's primary productivity.

Numerous studies [Baker 1975; Crotty 1980; Hjort

1981; Riney 1979; Stiles 1981; Unesco/UNEP/FAO 1979] have

contributed to the debate on whether a balance between

populations and resources has traditionally characterized

pastoral economies, and proponents on both sides have had

a focus for disagreement in the history of the Maasai. On

the one hand are sources which identify the past as a time

of equilibrium: "Until the beginning of the present

century there had been a balance between land resources

and livestock/wildlife numbers in the range areas" [Ayuko

1980, p. 163]. Opinions to the opposite are as strongly

held: "The Maasai never achieved a stable balance

with the resources of their environment in any one area"

[Talbot 1972, p. 703]. The controversy continues in terms

of the extent of current resource deterioration in

Maasailand. Studies on the one side identify all the

forms of habitat destruction usually associated with

pastoralism within the region's borders, and associate

them with the declining self-sufficiency of the pastoral

Maasai [Cossins 1980; Glover and Gwynne 1961]. Other

reports contradict these accounts, at least as to the

seriousness of the problem. For example, in his

investigation of range conditions in Tanzania's Maasailand

in the late 1970s, Jacobs [1978] found that rangeland

conditions were comparable to what they had been 20 years


earlier, despite poor rainfall during the period

1970-1976. His conclusions were that "claims of extensive

or excessive overgrazing to the degradation of pasture in

Maasailand are, in general, both unsubstantiated and

wildly exaggerated" [Jacobs 1978, p. 4]. Clearly, the

validity of such statements depends upon the locality

investigated and the time frame. Ecological forces and

historical patterns of interaction that have shaped the

Maasailand habitat are complex [Jacobs 1980b]; some areas

of Maasailand have suffered more serious degradation of

resources than others, and the regenerative powers of the

land are far from uniform.

While the divergence of opinion regarding the extent

of actual land deterioration remains, there is little

argument that population pressures are presently creating

a state of increasing imbalance for the pastoral Maasai.

They may be among the wealthiest of cattle-owning peoples

in Africa [Jacobs 1975], but this claim to well-being is

tenuous when one considers Maasailand's declining

livestock numbers per person and its shrinking pastoral

resource base, as described below. This overexploitation

of the range due to rising population pressures has been

fostered by the pastoral institution of common access to

range resources.


Communal Resource Use

Communal grazing practices have been the norm in many

parts of the world where livestock have been grazed

extensively. As noted by Crotty, "communal grazing of the

many small, individually owned herds in the group combined

the economically most productive and the politically most

stable methods of exploiting grazing lands by

precapitalist pastoralists" [1980, p. 120]. Invariably,

however, there has eventually emerged an accompanying

history of resource deterioration.

Theoretically, the problem is one of divergence

between private and social costs and benefits [Stryker

1984]. The individual pastoral household reaps the full

benefit of additional animals, while the cost in pasture,

water and eventual range degradation due to overgrazing is

shared by all households. The individual pastoralists

behave rationally to maximize their expected utilities,

thereby assuring the collective failure of all: the

so-called tragedy of the commons.

Adding together the component partial utilities,
the rational herdman concludes that the only
sensible course for him to pursue is to add
another animal to his herd. And another; and
another. .But this is the conclusion reached
by each and every rational herdman sharing a
commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is
locked into a system that compels him to increase
his herd without limit--in a world that is limited.
Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush,
each pursuing his own best interest in a society
that believes in the freedom of the commons.
Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all. [Hardin
1968, p. 1244]


Approaching the common property problem from a

different perspective, Runge [1981] argues that it is the

uncertainty of the individual pastoralist regarding the

actions of others that results in the overexploitation of

common property resources. In his opinion, the

separability assumption entailed by a model of each

pastoralist strictly pursuing self-interests is invalid.

Rather, individual choices by pastoralists need to be

viewed as interdependent, with the uncertainty of strategic

interdependence providing the rationale for institutions

coordinating choice [Runge 1982]. By this theory, grazing

decisions are based on the expected decisions of others,

and "overgrazing results from the inability of

interdependent individuals to coordinate their actions"

[Runge 1981, p. 604].

In unqualified form, these analyses of the commons

problem assume unrestricted access by the individual

pastoralist to communal resources, without limitation on

livestock numbers or on timing/duration of resource use.

However, a "common property resource," when

distinguished as an analytical classification from a

"public good," implies historically derived institutional

arrangements which govern resource use [Siebert 1981].

Regulating mechanisms have developed within most pastoral

societies that militate against the overexploitation of

the resource base, and grazing and watering rights are

frequently circumscribed by social law and custom

[Sandford 1983]. Still, the effectiveness of


institutionalized restrictions erodes as an area's critical

population density is exceeded. Voluntary compliance in

the absence of outside enforcement becomes less likely

[Palmquist and Pasour, Jr. 1982]. Whether the common

property problem is perceived as an assurance problem

derived from informational deficiencies, attributed to a

divergence between social and private costs and benefits,

or in fact results from a combination of these and other

factors, the outcome is plain: as population densities

increase, grazing pressures are unlikely to be held at

optimal levels under communal land use systems. The impact

on production is likely to be considerable. Jarvis [1980]

estimates production losses due to communal tenure can

equal as much as one-third of what could be produced under

individual tenure.

Encapsulation and Encroachment

Communal tenure allows, even encourages, a welfare

loss, but the magnitude of the problem is dependent upon

the intensity of land use pressures, principally a

function of pastoral population growth. In areas like

Maasailand, political encapsulation and encroachment by

nonpastoral peoples have also significantly affected

population densities.

Loss of access to grazing resources during colonial

rule, usually the better-watered areas, fundamentally

redefined production possibilities for many pastoral


peoples. As stated by Salzman, "in an understanding of

the circumstances of pastoral peoples today, the political

fact of encapsulation is foremost" [1981a, p. 131]. In

the case of the Maasai, they dominated an area in Kenya

and northern Tanzania that extended 1,100 km north to

south and up to 300 km east to west during the latter half

of the nineteenth century. The British appropriated much of

the higher-potential dry season land in Kenya for colonial

settlement, and the Maasai were restricted through a

series of "agreements" first to southern and northern

reserves, and then to an expanded southern reserve alone

[Spencer 1983; Tignor 1976]. By 1911, Kenya's Maasailand

had been reduced essentially to the present boundaries of

Kajiado and Narok Districts. Since then, the process of

encapsulation has proceeded, though under more

conciliatory circumstances, in the establishment of game

parks and reserves within Maasailand [Campbell 1977]. The

process of encapsulation has resulted in a situation

similar to that of the American Indian in the western

United States [Simpson 1968].

In addition to politically legitimized losses of

territory, the resource base of the pastoral Maasai is

shrinking as population pressures in highland areas compel

cultivators to migrate to previously unsettled areas in

Maasailand [Bernard and Thom 1981]. Tribal territorial

exclusivity, still a potent political element in most of

Subsaharan Africa, has limited incursions into Maasailand

to a degree, but the general trend is one of in-migration


and settlement by agropastoral groups. The proportion of

Kajiado District's total population counted as Maasai

decreased from 78 percent to 63 percent between 1962 and

1980, despite an increase of the Maasai population by 75

percent [White and Meadows 1981].

In agropastoral production systems cropping is

usually the basic activity, with surplus income invested

in livestock. Often the newly farmed areas are only

marginally cultivable Zone IV and Zone V lands, where

cropping is of doubtful ecological soundness [Marimi

1979]. The country's policies regarding such agricultural

expansion have been described as revolving around the

question of "how many people can be maintained adequately

in these marginal areas without the necessity of

large-scale famine relief in the inevitable low rainfall

seasons" [Lynam 1978, p. 64]. Not only are the more

productive range areas lost to cultivation, but grazing

pressures are intensified by agropastoralists' herds and

flocks. In addition to direct displacement from grazing

lands, the hydrologic impact of cultivators moving into

water catchment regions has hastened the impoverishment of

Maasailand's resource base [Ambrose 1980]. Even when yield

risks are taken into consideration, cropping of Zone IV

pastoral areas is a productively rational course for the

agropastoralist [Jahnke 1982], and therefore is a trend

likely to continue.


For Kajiado District, the loss of dry season grazing

areas as agropastoralists settle marginal lands, not to

mention the impact of the expanding urban environs of

Nairobi, is an ongoing process measurably reducing the

pastoral resource base ["Kajiado, District Environmental

Assessment Report" 1980]. In Narok District, with its

higher agricultural potential, encroachment is taking

place on a yet larger scale. The decline in the district's

resource base, in many areas to levels below that required

to support subsistence pastoralism, is a trend greatly

aggravated by the increased cultivation of former dry

season grazing areas [Cossins 1980]. Political

encapsulation diminished the grazing resources

traditionally depended upon by the Maasai in the past;

presently, encroachment by agropastoralists is furthering

the loss. As the pastoral resource base narrows, land use

pressures are compounded by a rapidly expanding Maasai


Maasai Population Growth

The desire of every Maasai pastoralist for children is

economically rational, considering the labor demands of

pastoral livestock production and the reliance upon one's

offspring for old-age security. But, having children is

imbued with a cultural significance beyond the purely

economic. As observed by Jacobs,


in spite of the importance which Maasai
attach to their cattle, they regard the
possession of children, especially sons,
as a more significant social value. Hence,
a "wealthy man" (olkarsis) is one who has
both many cattle and many children; a man
with many cattle but few or no children is
called tetia (pl. tetiain) and is accorded
no special status at all, being equated
with a "poor man" (olaisinani) who has
neither many cattle nor children. [1965,
p. 332]

Population growth rates of pastoral peoples have been

found to be generally lower than those of cultivators

[Campbell 1979a; Swift 1982]. A prolonged period of

breastfeeding among the Maasai, for up to 3 1/2 years,

during which time intercourse is considered harmful to the

feeding child, is one practice which has resulted in the

spacing of children [de Souza 1980]. Also, the fact that

traditionally a man cannot marry until he has attained

senior warriorhood has tended to restrain population

growth rates.

The trend, however, is toward younger and larger

families as both Maasai men and women marry at an earlier

age. De Souza [1980] attributes the younger marriages to

a general lowering of the age at which a young man is

initiated into warriorhood, and even, in places, the

dissolution of this ceremony; the spread of school

attendance and its disruptive effects regarding

traditional social practices; and a decline in many

pastoralists' welfare, inducing fathers to have daughters

marry at a young age so that the brideprice may be

received sooner than later. When improved health care


which is now available is considered in addition to these

social changes, it is not surprising to find an

accelerating population growth rate among the Maasai.

Human and livestock population densities and ratios

for Kajiado and Narok Districts are shown in Table 2.1.

The livestock numbers, in particular, while not

unrealistic, should be recognized as only approximations

since animal censuses are highly prone to inaccuracies.

Livestock holdings per capital for other pastoral peoples

of Kenya are presented in Table B.1 for comparison.

Current population densities depict existing land use

pressures, but it is the trends over time which

substantiate the increasing gravity of Maasailand's

population problems. The results of two sets of

projections now described indicate that subsistence needs

soon will be greater than the capacity of the resource

base, as utilized in the pastoral mode of production, to

provide for them.

In one study [Kenya, Ministry of Economic Planning and

Community Affairs 1979a], the 1969 census is used to

project pastoralist and farmer populations in Kajiado and

Narok District (as well as populations in other pastoral

areas) to the year 2000. These populations, expressed in

adult equivalents, are shown in Table B.2. In Table B.3

the maximum numbers of livestock units environmentally

supportable, given the eco-climatic conditions of the two

districts, are calculated. Using this information, the

maximum numbers of pastoralists supportable, assuming


Table 2.1. Human and livestock populations and population
densities, Kajiado and Narok Districts, circa

Item Kajiado District Narok District

Area in sq kma,d 19,605 16,115

Humana 149,005 210,306
Cattle 600,000-650,000b 602,000c
Small stock 701,000b 1,254,000c

Population per ha
Human 0.076 0.131
Cattle 0.306-0.332 0.374
Small stock 0.358 0.778

Cattle per capital 4.0-4.4 2.9

Small stock per capital 4.7 6.0

Source: aKenya, Central Bureau of Statistics, 1979 census.

bWhite and Meadows [1981].

CKenya, Ministry of Economic Palnning and Community
Affairs [1971a], Appendix 3.
Game parks not included.


various land use restrictions and a minimum requirement

for subsistence of 3.5 standard livestock units per adult

equivalent, are projected, along with the years by which

the pastoral population of Maasailand can be expected to

exceed these limits (Table B.4). For example, assuming

pastoralists of Kajiado District are prevented from

grazing the cultivable Zone II and Zone III lands, they

will exceed the carrying capacity of the remaining range

by 1993.

The second study cited ["Kajiado, District

Environmental Assessment Report" 1980] employs the same

methodology, and though only pertaining to Kajiado

District, a wider range of conditions are investigated.

Various scenarios featuring different Livestock Unit/

Adult Equivalent (SSU/Adult) ratios, populations growth

rates, levels of technology, and land use restrictions,

are considered, as summarized in Table B.5. For example,

if it is assumed that (i) the population growth rate is

2.5 percent, (ii) the stock per capital ratio is 3.5

SSU/Adult, (iii) range productivity increases by 25

percent, and (iv) pastoralists retain access to all but

the higher-potential cultivable lands, the district's

carrying capacity will be exceeded by the year 2001. The

projections made in both of these studies lead to the same

conclusion: The pastoral mode of production will not be a

feasible economic alternative for Maasailand's future

populations, a situation apparent in Table 2.2 and

Fig. 2.1 which depict the trend of declining numbers of


Table 2.2. Livestock units per pastoral adult equivalent,
Maasailand, 1970-2000

Pastoral Livestock Units per
Year Population Adult Equivalenta

--adult equivalents--

1970 122,000 3.8

1980 151,665 3.0

1990 188,536 2.4

2000 234,371 2.0

Source: Based on data from Appendix Tables B.2 and B.3,
and Kenya, Ministry of Economic Planning and
Community Affairs [1979b].

aAssuming only Zones IV and V are used for pastoral live-
stock production, and that the carrying capacity of these
lands totals 459,983 livestock units.


4.0 r

3.0 1




1.0 F






Figure 2.1.

Livestock units per pastoral adult
equivalent, Maasailand, 1970-2000

Source: Table 2.2.





livestock per pastoralist. Between the years 1970 and

2000, numbers of livestock units per pastoral Maasai adult

equivalent will have been reduced nearly one-half,

assuming higher-potential regions are devoted to the

cultivation of crops.

Exemplifying pastoral responses to rising population

pressures and a deteriorating rangeland is the increasing

prevalence of small stock in the Kaputiei section of

Maasailand. Sheep and goats constituted 45.0 10.9

percent of total household livestock units in 1977, having

increased from 14.6 7.5 percent in 1967 [Njoka 1983].

But adjustment processes such as this only postpone the

need for eventual fundamental change in the mode of

production. In the words of Njoka, "one wonders how long

the degraded environment can continue to sustain an

increasing population of the small stock" [1983, p. 232].

A description of populations and resource use would

be incomplete without mention of the region's wildlife,

since large populations of predators and herbivores

significantly influence the pastoral economy of the

Maasai. Predators are a major source of livestock losses,

and specific examples involving sampled producers are

discussed in later chapters. Concerning wild herbivores,

it was estimated in an aerial survey conducted from

November, 1969, to March, 1970, that they composed 37

percent of total herbivore biomass in Narok District, and

17 percent in Kajiado District [Watson 1975]. With the

national ban on game hunting since 1977, and present


livestock populations in Maasailand approximately the same

as at the time of Watson's aerial survey, it is likely

that the wild/domesticated herbivore ratio has risen, thus

placing additional pressures upon grazing resources.


Population densities unsustainable by the pastoral

mode of production are bringing environmental destruction

and economic decline to Maasailand and other pastoral

areas [Livingstone 1979]. Growing populations unable to

expand territorially in association with communal tenure

are causing population densities to exceed carrying

capacities in some areas, leading to degradation of

resources. The in-migration of external populations has

compounded the problem, both heightening grazing pressure

directly, in pastoralists' dry season grazing areas, and

in reducing the productivity of the resource base

indirectly through the cultivation of catchment areas.

Controversy continues regarding the extent to which

resource degradation has occurred, but there is little

argument that it is taking place.

As critical population densities are approached and

exceeded, adjustment processes have lost their

effectiveness. Social structures have undergone strain,

and traditional institutions which once helped assure

pastoral viability have been undermined. For example,

institutions for sharing risk have been weakened and


pastoralists have become increasingly vulnerable to

climatic uncertainty [Swift 1979]. The pastoral mode of

production, ecologically adaptable and productively

self-sustaining in the past, will not adequately serve the

altered economic needs of the Maasai or of Kenya. As

Campbell summarizes the situation for Kajiado District:

Probably by 1990 and almost certainly by
2000 Kajiado District will be unable to
support its population at a subsistence
level at current levels of technology.
If a major deterioration in the resource
base, high unemployment, landlessness and/or
livestocklessness and high rates of rural-
urban migration are to be avoided, then
alternative patterns of resource exploitation,
land use and employment will have to evolve
before the turn of the century. 11979a, p. 15]

However, the resource use problems facing the Maasai

and other pastoral peoples, while unprecedented in their

magnitude and urgency, are not without antecedence. In

the following section, their historical basis and the

evolution of pastoral interventionism in Kenya are


Interventionism in Kenya

Kenya's livestock interventions are addressed in

Chapter III. However, to provide this discussion of

interventionism with a point of reference, a brief account

is given of relevant events in Kenya's past and the

country's present framework for development of its

rangelands. The scope and relative success of colonial


interventions in pastoral regions, Maasailand in

particular, are discussed. The objectives and

accomplishments of the Kenya Livestock Development Project

are then presented.

Colonial Kenya

As with all countries of Subsaharan Africa, Kenya's

past can be arbitrarily divided into three eras: the time

before colonization by Europeans, an interval of colonial

rule, and the period commencing with independence. Each

of the three eras spans a successively shorter period of

time, from thousands of years, to about 75, to a

relatively brief 20 years. In the familiar imperial

pattern, British involvement in East Africa was prompted

by political and economic opportunism. Control of the

Lake Victoria region was the objective, and the Imperial

British East Africa Company was granted a concession in

1888 to establish and protect the trade channels from the

coast to this area. By 1894-95 the British Government had

assumed direct administrative responsibility in East

Africa, ushering in Kenya's colonial era [Oliver and

Atmore 1981].

Between 1896 and 1901, a railway line was constructed

from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. The railway opened up a

region of high agricultural potential in what was then the

East African Protectorate. Ecologically conducive to

European settlement, official encouragement for settlers


to establish agricultural holdings in this region soon

followed. With the influx of settlers, Kenya's

agricultural development was characterized above all by

the division of the land between Europeans and Africans.

Africans were displaced and subsequently prohibited from

acquiring land in what came to be known as the White

Highlands, primarily higher-potential lands that eventually

totaled about 3.1 million ha. Estates mainly producing

wheat, coffee, tea, and maize were established, with the

displaced African populations providing a surrounding pool

of agricultural labor [Odingo 1971; Stewart 1981].

Parenthetically, settlers' livestock enterprises tended to

lag due to problems of disease control and pasture

development, and were usually a sideline in farming

operations [Hinga and Heyer 1976].

From the beginning, the welfare of settlers was the

sole concern of the colonial government:

Agricultural development policy, that is
to say provision of loans, administrative
services, roads, market outlets, and research,
was up to the mid-thirties almost exclusively,
and up to the mid-fifties largely, a
matter of promoting and firmly establishing
the White Highlands. [Ruthenberg 1966, p. 4]

But the benefits settlers derived were bought very

much as the expense of African agriculture and welfare

[Smith 1976]. By the 1930s, the adverse effects of neglect

of African areas could no longer be ignored. Population

pressures and the concomitant deterioration of African

lands neighboring the White Highlands led to the


appointment of a Kenya Land Commission in 1933.

Recommendations for the establishment of planned

settlement schemes in African areas were set forth, but it

was not until after World War II that these plans were

finally enacted. Meanwhile during the war, the contrast

between benefits enjoyed by the settlers and the economic

difficulties experienced by African producers increased

[Spencer 1980].

In 1945, the African Land Development program (ALDEV)

was organized, at the same time that the Kenya Ten Year

Development Plan (1946-1955), the first of its kind, was

about to be initiated. In the Plan, overpopulation and

overstocking, which had worsened during the war years,

were identified as the salient problems in the African

areas. Marginal, nonpastoral African lands which had

continued to decline in fertility due to "permanent"

bush-fallow practices were the main worry, though

rangeland degradation was also beginning to generate

official concern. ALDEV was established primarily to

oversee the settlement and reconditioning of regions

considered cultivable.

Pastoral peoples, even ones such as the Maasai from

whom large tracts of land had been appropriated, were in

general cushioned by distance against the direct effects

of European settlement, and largely left to themselves by

the colonial government. Existing tribal boundaries of

pastoralists were formalized for administrative control,

but otherwise the British presence amounted to little more


than pacification. Brown, speculating upon the possible

origins of this hands-off attitude, suggests that the

pastoral areas were intentionally neglected

largely because of their inherently poor
productivity, and also because the people
inhabiting them were generally politically
inactive, as compared with agriculturalists.
Provided these people did not create an
acute problem, in terms of famine, law and
order, stock disease, or any combination of
these, they could be largely left to themselves,
and they were. Indeed, to a degree, there
was a deliberate intent to leave the pastoral
peoples in their pristine state, not only
because rapid change was apparently not
necessary for them, but also because many
officials admired the warlike, independent,
self-sufficient pastoralist more than a
trouser-wearing, half-educated, politically
minded agriculturalist. [n.d., p. 18]

The minimal level of administrative engagement of

pastoral peoples can also be attributed to social and

cultural factors which restricted avenues of access.

Whereas the social structure of settled African

cultivators was often susceptible to colonial

manipulation, among the Maasai there was no strong

collaborative elite [Tignor 1976]. However, governmental

involvement in Maasailand and other pastoral areas became

imperative in the face of deteriorating land conditions.

Action was spurred not only by the increasing severity of

land degradation, but also by a shift in the official

attitude toward development during the 1950s.

Mismanagement of resources, not simply overpopulation,

came to be identified as the source of land use problems

[Migot-Adholla and Little 1981].


The change in perception of land use problems was

formalized in the Swynnerton Plan, a policy paper on

agricultural development in the African areas compiled in

1954. The major thrust of this paper with respect to the

nonpastoral areas called for agricultural intensification

and land tenure reform, with the consolidation of

fragmented holdings and their registration considered

necessary preconditions for development [Memon 1981]. For

the pastoral areas, the Swynnerton Plan proposed a strategy

which called for limiting numbers of livestock to presumed

carrying capacities. Guided by this principle, the

government launched over 40 major schemes involving stock

limitation and grazing management, livestock marketing,

water development, and tsetse fly eradication

[Migot-Adholla and Little 1981].

Grazing schemes were planned, not according to where

they would yield the quickest return but rather mainly

where they were most urgently required, with the

following objectives and conditions [Ruthenberg 1966]:

Demarcation of a certain area as a grazing scheme.

Adjustment of stock to the carrying capacity of the

land within the given area.

Organization of a culling program and stock


Castration of scrub bulls.

Introduction of rotation grazing--simple

alternation in most, and regular rotation in some of

the better schemes.


Construction of dips and the provision of veterinary


Provision of water through the construction of dams

and wells.

Extension of grazing through bush clearing and

tsetse eradication where necessary.

Provision of loans for the investments mentioned


Payment of a fee per head of cattle per year, to

service the loans.

Supervision of the management rules by grazing

guards and a government officer.

Three grazing schemes established in Maasailand were

the Ilkisongo (0.5 million ha), the Loodokilani (0.8

million ha), and the Matapato (0.4 million ha) [Ayuko

1980]. Ilkisongo was subdivided into three clan areas,

and Loodokilani and Matapato, into grazing blocks. A

simple system of management based on the movement of

livestock between wet and dry season grazing areas was

proposed for each area or block. The regular sale of

livestock, selective breeding and culling, provision of

water and veterinary services, and most of the other

prescribed guidelines listed above were included in the

planning. However, in the end the three schemes were not


Failure was due in part to problems of enforcing

territorial divisions which conflicted with those

traditionally employed by the Maasai [Jacobs 1963]. More


significantly, from the beginning pastoralists were

required to reduce livestock numbers, since the schemes

were located in areas considered overgrazed. Destocking

was logically resisted by pastoralists already living at

subsistent levels. Moreover, the greatest absolute

reductions in stock numbers were required of pastoralists

with the largest herds. As these individuals were often

community leaders, the schemes were therefore opposed by

the most influential members of the society ["Kajiado,

District Environmental Assessment Report" 1980].

A Kajiado District demonstration ranch begun in 1946

at Konza experienced a similar fate. It was a 8,870 ha

unit, intended to demonstrate to the Maasai the value of

limiting herd size to carrying capacity and the potential

for livestock improvement through selection and breeding.

Major investments were made, including fencing the ranch's

perimeter and four paddocks, drilling three boreholes,

installing a dip and employing a ranch manager. Ten

Maasai households (90 people), owning 1,400 head of

cattle, were chosen to settle on the ranch, with the

agreement that they would dip their cattle weekly,

vaccinate their herds regularly, follow a plan of

rotational grazing, and restrict their herd numbers to a

prescribed limit. Ayuko relates the ranch's subsequent



Wire fences were rendered unserviceable by
game animals, and by 1955 the wire and posts
had been removed. The families refused to
honour some of the commitments, and particularly
the one in respect of stock numbers, so that
the cattle population increased from the
original 1,400 to 2,300 head by 1954; attempts
to impose reductions were resisted and finally
led to four families leaving the ranch with
666 head of their cattle. The remaining six
families, having agreed at first not to exceed
a maximum of 1,700 head, had increased their
herds to 2,441 by 1958. Finally came the
drought of 1961 which left the ground bare,
forcing all the families to leave. [1980,
p. 179]

Though grazing interventions in Maasailand were not

successful, in other range areas of Kenya where the grazing

schemes existed over a period of years, a regeneration of

grasses and an increase in carrying capacities resulted

[Ruthenberg 1966]. However, by the early 1960s most of

the schemes throughout Kenya were abandoned as disciplined

management dissipated with the approach of independence

and grazing systems were disrupted by the disastrous

drought of 1960-1961. The area under any degree of

grazing control fell from 3.7 million ha in 1960 to about

320,000 ha in 1963.

Included in grazing scheme development as well as

undertaken as separate projects, water resource

improvement became a major area of intervention. Peberdy

[1969] notes that between 1945 and 1962, ALDEV was

involved in constructing 1,020 seasonal dams, 332

permanent dams, 308 sub-surface dams, 38 rock catchments,

40 masonry weirs, and 72 piping schemes; protecting 54

springs; and drilling 44 boreholes and over 200 wells.


But, water development projects frequently only aggravated

grazing pressures, since there was not concurrent

limitation of livestock numbers to a particular area's

grazing capacity. Increases in livestock numbers due to

disease control measures had similar mixed effects,

prompting opinions that "the provision of drugs which

allow cattle in these areas to ravage land which would

otherwise be protected by [tsetse] fly is quite

unwarrented" [Jones 1959, p. 61].

In addition to grazing schemes, and water and

veterinary projects, governmental interventions intended

to promote increased sales of livestock from the pastoral

areas were instituted. The Kenya Meat Commission (KMC)

was established in 1950 and was conferred "exclusive

rights for the purchase of cattle and small stock; to

acquire, establish and operate abattoirs, meat works,

storage concerns and refrigerating facilities; and to

slaughter those same stock for export and national

consumption of meat, processed meat foods and by-products"

[Spink et al. 1980, preface]. KMC was intended to be the

principal entity for implementing livestock sector

policies, by acting as a price stabilizing agency, buyer

of last resort during drought periods, and exclusive

exporter of meat for Kenya. Included in its operations was

a buying program intended to generate increased sales by

pastoralists. But the Commission purchased pastoralists'

animals with extreme caution, since it was not authorized

to incur financial loss or to undertake unjustifiable


risks in the interests of destocking range areas. Unable

to pay prices for livestock that private traders were

willing to pay, KMC's pastoral operations quickly proved


To more directly address the problem of apparent low

livestock marketing levels in pastoral areas, the African

Livestock Marketing Organization (ALMO) was formed in 1952.

Working in collaboration with the Veterinary Department and

authorized to pay subsidized purchase prices if necessary,

ALMO assumed KMC's responsibilities for buying African

cattle. KMC virtually became a buyer solely of European

farmers' and ranchers' slaughter stock, and between 1952

and 1960 sustained a constant annual growth rate of 17

percent, more than trebling its annual volume of

throughput from 7,300 mt to 25,500 mt of beef [Kivunja

1978]. Meanwhile, ALMO proved no more successful than had

been KMC in competing with private traders in the African

areas. Two livestock marketing systems emerged, with

private traders purchasing African stock on-the-hoof, and

KMC buying the stock of Europeans at controlled prices,

paying producers on a quality and dressed-weight basis.

Market dichotomization was reinforced by the lack of

well developed marketing channels from pastoral areas to

the more populated Highlands, and particularly by movement

restrictions necessitated by the risk of disease

transmission. More than any other single factor the

disease threat to clean areas inhibited the growth of an

integrated marketing network. Health of the largely


improved dairy herds of the higher-potential areas was the

overriding concern, as noted by Jones at the time:

Since the economy of the country depends
mainly on its mixed farming, the safeguarding
of the valuable dairy industry from disease
inevitably assumes greater importance than
the destocking of the pastoral areas. Exotic
cattle are much more susceptible to disease
than native stock, and this means that
disease precautions have to be stringent
and that when there is a conflict of interest
between the safety of the dairy industry
and the free flow of slaughter stock, the
interest of the former prevails. [1959,
p. 10]

As a consequence of this disease constraint on movement,

there existed throughout this period a sizable cattle

trade southward from Kenya's Maasailand to markets in

Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania excluding Zanzibar).

Thus, as was true for agriculture in general, Kenya's

livestock industry was composed of distinctly separate

parts, the undeveloped, principally subsistent African

production systems and the market oriented operations in

the Scheduled Areas (the more neutral title given the

White Highlands). In the decade preceding Kenya's

independence in 1963, four-fifths of the agricultural

sales were by the large farms of the Scheduled Areas,

aided by price supports which maintained prices,

especially for cereals, well above world levels [Hinga and

Heyer 1976]. Though the only livestock products for which

there were similar supports were dairy products, by 1960

slaughter stock comprised one-eighth of the Scheduled

Area's total agricultural sales [Hazlewood 1979].


Meanwhile, even with the operation of agencies such as

ALDEV and ALMO, change was relatively inconsequential in

African areas, as exemplified by the fact that from 1946

to 1960 ALDEV resettled only about 11,000 families in its

land rehabilitation programs [Odingo 1971]. Pastoral

interventions, especially water and disease control

programs, tended to increase the quantity but not

necessarily the quality of life. Herds multiplied, but

market participation was constrained externally by the

ever present threat of disease transmission and internally

by pastoralists' nonmarket orientation.

Independence came in the wake of the drought and

flooding of 1960-1961. During the following years of

recovery, livestock production in the pastoral areas

received renewed attention, as rural development projects

were initiated in various parts of the country [Found

1980; Livingstone 1981]. ALMO was replaced in the newly

independent government by a Livestock Marketing Division,

and a Range Management Division was also established.

Administrative rejuvenation was matched by a more positive

outlook regarding the productive potential of the

rangelands. Pastoral regions, previously viewed as little

more than an economic liability, began to be considered in

terms of the positive contribution they could make to

bolstering the young nation's economy. To develop and

draw forth this contribution became a principal objective

of the Kenya Livestock Development Project.


The Kenya Livestock Development Project

The Kenya Livestock Development Project (KLDP), begun

in 1968, was intended as a pilot project on which

subsequent World Bank livestock projects for African

countries would be based [Crotty 1980]. For the

Government of Kenya, KLDP is a comprehensive effort to

increase rangeland production and bring the long-term goal

of increased stratification of the country's livestock

industry closer to fulfillment [von Kaufmann 19761. The

activities of KLDP extend beyond pastoral areas, but the

formation in these regions of livestock production units

through which development inputs could be introduced has

been a principal objective. A description of KLDP's

overall operations is appropriate, in order to place this

objective in perspective.

Briefly, the production units established or upgraded

through KLDP are categorized as commercial, company,

cooperative, group and individual ranches, and grazing

blocks. Commercial ranches, generally in existence before

the inception of KLDP, are owned or held on lease by

individuals or shareholders numbering from two to several

hundred persons. Company ranches, enterprises operated on

state land leased from the national government or on trust

land administered by district-level county councils, are

of three types differing mainly in number of members and

degree of public control. The private company ranch is

limited to 50 shareholders, who usually live outside the


ranch. The public company ranch may have any number of

members and is required to make public the subscription

of company shares. The directed company ranch is also not

limited in its membership, but is required to have an

appointed ranch manager, a position frequently filled by a

district range officer. Shareholders supply cattle or a

cash equivalent on all company ranches. The herd is owned

collectively, and profits are shared according to formal


Cooperative ranches are of two types. The commercial

cooperative ranch operates like a company ranch, complete

with paid manager and board of directors, and is subject

to controls on expenditures and the distribution of

profits. All livestock are the cooperative's property. On

communal cooperative ranches, individual members are given

land at the periphery of the ranch on which to live and

keep private herds, in addition to contributing to the

jointly owned herd. The allotment of stock units is

proportional to a member's shares in the cooperative.

Sixty percent of the members are required to reside on the


Group ranches have been designed for the communally

grazed rangelands of the Maasai and Samburu. Since group

and individual ranches are the forms of tenurial change

found in Maasailand, they are addressed in Chapter IV.

Finally, in the arid northeastern part of the country,

grazing blocks have been formed. Their development is

intended to regulate and control the movements of


pastoralists through water investments, controlled

grazing, and improved marketing operations [Devres 1979].

These various types of production units are the

entities through which the major share of KLDP development

loans have been disbursed. Of the funds apportioned under

the first phase of the Project (KLDP I), 62 percent was to

be for ranch development, 18 percent for equipping the

Livestock Marketing Division, 13 percent for surveying and

developing of range water resources, and the remaining

7 percent for veterinary, range management, and technical

services [von Kaufmann 1976]. The expected rates of

return on loans to the ranches and grazing blocks are

shown in Table B.6. By 1974, when the first phase of the

Project ended and the second phase (KLDP II) was

beginning, 108 ranches had received loans, including 10

company and cooperative, 42 commercial, 41 individual, and

15 group ranches [ILCA 1978].

For the commercial ranches, funds were provided for

the development of water resources and stock handling

facilities, other capital developments, and the purchase

of steers and breeding stock. Similar disbursements were

made to the company and cooperative ranches, though often

more substantial capital investments were required since

many of these ranches were established on previously

unoccupied land [Semenye and Chabari 1980]. Water

development was given priority under KLDP I on group and

individual ranches, and was the target of over half of

their allocated funds. Upgrading of herds also was a


major area of investment, with loans for improved bulls

accounting for 16 percent of the loans to group ranches

and 10 percent of the loans to individual ranches [Hampson


KLDP II, in size and comprehensiveness, was a much

more ambitious plan than had been KLDP I. The objectives

of KLDP II included the improvement of 2.8 million ha of

grazing lands in Northeastern Province (the grazing

blocks), and the establishment or improvement of 60 group

ranches, 100 commercial ranches, 21 company and

cooperative ranches, and 3 feedlots [White 1978]. It was

recognized that if KLDP II were to meet production targets,

the handling capacity of the Livestock Marketing Division

(LMD) would need to be expanded. Investments proposed

were expected to increase LMD's capacity for transporting

cattle from the northern rangelands to 150,000 head per

year, as well as permit broader LMD involvement in

Maasailand. As a comprehensive project, KLDP II even

contained provisions for the preservation of wildlife

reserves. Given the extensive investment planned,

development expectations at the time ran high:

National beef production would be raised
by 23,000 tons, a 50 percent increase over
present marketed levels. It would also
create an estimated 5,000 new jobs, 50,000
people would be engaged on ranches and
90,000 pastoralists would benefit from
the general development of the rangeland.
[FAO/IBRD 1977, p. 119]


During the first years of KLDP II, it was evident

that the development process would be neither as extensive

nor rapid as had been projected. Estimates of the number

of ranches to be funded were revised downward,

mid-Project, to 104 ranches, including 46 commercial, 29

company and cooperative, and 29 group. Altogether, the

number of ranches to be funded by KLDP I and II was

expected to reach 212, out of an estimated total of 450 to

500 beef ranches in the country, with 250,000 to 300,000

head of cattle affected, out of an estimated range

population of 4 million head [ILCA 1978].

By the end of 1978, even the lowered expectations had

not been met. Only 32 ranch loans had been fully or

partially disbursed under KLDP II, including 15 to

commercial ranches and 13 to company ranches [Semenye and

Chabari 1980]. Development capital was disbursed at a rate

equivalent to about Ksh 940,000 per quarter, half for the

purchase of breeding stock, a third for developing water

facilities, and the remainder for other improvements [ILCA

1978]. (The rates of exchange between the Kenyan shilling

and U.S. dollar, 1952 to 1981, are listed in Table B.7.)

Difficulties, financial and otherwise, impeded

progress. Exemplifying the first area of obstruction,

between KLDP II's appraisal in 1972 and review reports in

1976, the costs of development inputs had risen

dramatically: "Piping costs almost four times, boreholes

more than twice, tanks and troughs, firebreaks, fencing

and bushclearing, all doubled in cost and dips rose by 50


percent" [ILCA 1978, p. 24]. While rising costs caused

delays, the more serious obstacles in pastoral areas have

been unforeseen or misinterpreted ecological and social

conditions. One example regarding the grazing blocks is

related by Bille [1980] and Helland [1980d]. Within each

block there was to be a rotational grazing system based on

the planned distribution of a large number of constructed

storage ponds. In actuality, these ponds did not prevent

the continued concentration of cattle, and the alleviation

of environmental degradation for which the storage ponds

were designed was not attained. As concluded by Helland:

By modification of the environment by the
provision of water, the grazing block project
has replaced harsh, direct and efficient
natural control mechanisms with man-made,
"soft-approach" controls. The dangers inherent
in tinkering with the water/pasture/animal
balance seem to have been realized but not
followed to the logical conclusion of providing
the modified system with controls functionally
equivalent to the natural ones. [1980d, p. 34]


The picture that emerges of historic and current

efforts to develop Kenya's rangelands is one marked by

shortcomings. During the colonial period the development

of pastoral areas was hindered by a biased economic

commitment in favor of settlers' interests. Rangeland

development policies for African areas were eventually

initiated, but only in response to increasing ecological

deterioration. As the disappointing record of KLDP


demonstrates, even recent, well-financed programs have not

met with the success expected. Socioeconomic factors, in

particular, have hindered advancement. In the following

section, the salient problems of interventionism are

addressed in general terms, and reasons for the lack of

success are posed.

Pastoral Transition

The history of pastoral interventionism in Kenya

described is representative of events in much of

Subsaharan Africa. An initial benign neglect of pastoral

societies by colonial powers generally gave way to

engagement during the second third of the century,

predicated on rangeland degradation attributed to pastoral

mismanagement. Reliance, on the one hand, upon methods of

coercion in which destocking was viewed as an end in

itself, and on the other hand, upon purely technological

solutions, only invited failure [Baker 1976; Commoner

1972; Helland 1980a].

The understanding of pastoral land use problems

matured during the 1960s and 1970s, with recognition of

the misuse of resources as but a symptom of the growing

maladjustment of pastoral livestock systems due to

increasing population densities and limited resources

[Baker 1975; Jahnke 1982]. Development of a more

enlightened understanding of pastoral issues was aided by

the coordination of resource and people based pastoral


research efforts, approaches which have been distinct and

even antagonistic in their methods and objectives [Aronson

1981; Goldschmidt 1981b]. More recently, coordination of

research has found a theoretical as well as practical

basis in the farming systems methodology. Examination of

pastoralism as a system has required that attention be

given to the dynamic interplay among the human, livestock,

and environmental components. Only by analysis of

interactions within and among these principal components

can insights be realized [Anderson and Trail 1981;

Dyson-Hudson 1980d; Norman 1982; Rogers 1983; Slovic,

Kunreuther, and White 1974; Spedding 1975].

Perceptions of pastoral resource use problems have

been enhanced by a systems perspective, but solutions

remain elusive. In Kenya, officials admit that today the

overgrazing problem is as serious as ever: "Despite

warning sounded as far back as 1929 on the overstocking

condition in pastoral areas, no satisfactory solution has

been found to this problem yet. This has been the

greatest failure in Kenya's livestock development history"

[Kenya, Republic of 1980a, p. 21].

Unexpected, deleterious outcomes of pastoral

interventions have frequently aggravated the problem

[Dyson-Hudson 1980c; Hampson 1975; Helland 1980c; Helland

1980e]. For the Maasai, in particular, Jacobs assesses

the "progressive over-peopling, overstocking and

overgrazing [as having been] either caused or exacerbated

by poorly designed and highly erratic development schemes


and policies. ." [1975, p. 419]. More broadly, in a

general review of pastoral development efforts Goldschmidt

concludes that the record "is one of almost unrelieved

failure. Nothing seems to work, few pastoral people's

lives have improved, there is no evidence of increased

production of meat and milk, the land continues to

deteriorate, and millions of dollars have been spent"

[1981b, p. 116]. Meanwhile, communal grazing and

livestock mismanagement continue to be identified as the

principal problem areas [Dasmann, Milton, and Freeman 1973;

Jarvis 1980; Malechek 1982; Norris 1982], and advice to

governments that pastoral practices must be modified has

become numbingly repetitive [Chemonics International

Consulting Division 1977; Doran, Low, and Kemp 1979].

The history of general failure of pastoral

interventions is at least partly the result of a larger

problem of contradictory objectives and lack of political

will at the national level [Chenery 1961; Schaefer-Kehnert

and Brown 1973]. For example, the Kenyan Government

recognizes that it is in the national interest to bring

pastoral lands into market oriented production [Davis

1970; Payne 1976], and yet has hindered this transition by

succumbing to the short-term political advantages gained by

"cheap meat" and other urban-biased policies [Bates 1981b;

Hjort 1981; House and Killick 1981]. The government, as

described in Chapter III, is now apparently realizing the

shortsightedness of imposing controls which amount to

production disincentives.


Conflicts regarding the goals of development programs

are less easily reconciled. The generic objectives of

development projects in pastoral Africa are succinctly

defined by Pratt as "to assist national efforts that aim

to change production and marketing systems in pastoral

Africa so as to increase the sustained output and yield of

livestock products and improve the quality of life of the

people of this region" [1980, p. 109]. These objectives

are not contradictory, and in fact in the long run each

implies the other. But, in the near term, pastoral and

national interests may well be in conflict, requiring

that priorities be set [Konczacki 1978; Ruthenberg

1980a]. This conflict is evident in criticisms of, for

instance, the use of numbers of marketed animals as a

criterion in the assessment of pastoral projects [Dahl and

Hjort 1976; Galaty 1981a].

Integration of pastoralists into the larger economy is

gaining momentum, with or without governmental assistance.

Today, no pastoral people in East Africa subsist

exclusively on livestock products, and the trend is

rapidly toward increasing levels of market involvement,

economic diversification and sedantarization [Brandstrom,

Hultin, and Lindstrom 1979; Frantz 1975a; Frantz 1975b;

Hogg 1980; Johnson 1977; Little 1982a]. Viability is no

longer simply a function of the household economy. On top

of carrying capacities and livestock productivities,

pastoralists' marketing practices and terms of trade with


the larger economy are redefining critical population

densities [Helland 1980a].

Konczacki states that increased intervention is

inevitable if pastoralism "is to survive as a way of life

and a method of production" [1978, p. 35]. In a similar

vein, others have suggested that pastoralists need

continued assurance of their ability to sustain themselves

by the pastoral mode of production [Institute for

Development Anthropology 1980; Swift 1982]. But this form

of assistance, what Galaty [1981b] aptly refers to as the

kindly bear-hug of governmental intervention, only prolongs

the transition without facilitating the adjustment

process. Even with increased intervention pastoralism

cannot be preserved. Current and projected population

pressures dictate that the only future for pastoral

livestock systems is in their transition to market

oriented systems [Brown 1963; Ruthenberg 1980b]. The role

of interventions must be to encourage and assist the

transition to commercialized production by helping

pastoralists accommodate the additional risks and

uncertainties involved in shifting from a nonmarket to a

market oriented set of resource use patterns [Njoka 1979].

It cannot be forgotten that in addition to reconciling

forage demand and forage supply, an increasingly difficult

task as population pressures mount, the Government of

Kenya's concurrent goal in pastoral areas such as

Maasailand is higher levels of marketed production.


Modernizing agriculture involves more than

modification at the margins [Dorner 1972; Mosher 1969].

Given the fundamental differences between the pastoral mode

of production and commercial stockraising, there is truth

in statements describing the transition of pastoral

livestock systems as a radical revolution and one for

which there are no half measures [Cruz de Carvalho 1974;

Peberdy 1969; Schneider 1981b]. Even so, socioeconomic

change is rarely discrete or absolute. Rather, a process

of adaptation and response is taking place in Maasailand

and other pastoral regions, and will continue to occur, as

both the benefits of market production and the costs of

pastoral production rise [Dyson-Hudson and Dyson-Hudson

1982; Salzman 1980]. The critical issue is the

accelerating or restraining effects governmental policies

and activities have upon the adaptation-and-response



"Resource" is a highly relative concept. As noted by

Ciriacy-Wantrup [1963] it changes with the means-end

scheme, that is, with the planning agent, that person's or

organization's objectives, the state of technology, and

existing social institutions. This chapter has delineated

the need and potential for an economic transition in

Subsaharan Africa's pastoral lands, Kenya's Maasailand in

particular, as the resource base is brought into a new


means-end scheme. Under the pastoral mode of production,

these lands once provided adequately, if capriciously, for

the pastoral household's viability as long as its

regenerative limits were not exceeded. But population

pressures in combination with communal access to resources

have made violation of the limits inevitable. Even where

stock rates are still maintained at sustainable levels,

pastoralism cannot generate the increasing levels of

production required by the larger society.

The transition to a means-end scheme in which the

planning agent can exert a measure of control over the

resource base, can take advantage of productive

technologies beyond those which characterize pastoralism,

and has market oriented objectives, is occurring in

Maasailand. In the past, the misperception of problems and

poorly defined objectives have hindered governmental

activities designed to assist pastoral development.

Today, it is clear that interventions need to be designed

and implemented expressly to assist pastoral societies in

the transition to commercial production. In the following

chapter, ways in which the Kenyan Government is currently

affecting the transition process are examined.


The transition for the pastoral Maasai to

increasingly market oriented livestock production cannot

be considered apart from the government's commitment to

directed change [Jenny 1980]. With respect to livestock,

this commitment translates into a goal of increased

production levels. As explicitly stated in the National

Livestock Development Policy, a document self-acclaimed as

"the most definitive policy on livestock development since


The most basic objective will be to increase
productive investment and growth in output
of livestock products. In the short term
(1980-1983), the objective will be to avert
the projected shortages in meat and milk. In
the longer run, the objective will be to
increase animal products to feed an increasing
population. [Kenya, Republic of 1980a, p. 12]

The development of a stratified livestock industry,

that is, cow-calf operations in the drier rangeland areas

concentrating on the production of immatures with more

humid regions used for the finishing of slaughter stock,

envelops the government's various strategies for

accomplishing the long-term objective. Stratification

necessarily implies the integration of pastoral peoples

such as the Maasai into the production chain, that is,



promotion of the transition process discussed in Chapter

II. In this chapter some of the principal forms of

governmental intervention which are influencing the

process for the Maasai are examined.

In the first section, pricing and marketing

interventions, operations of the Livestock Marketing

Division (LMD), and structural changes in Kenya's

livestock industry are addressed. Discussion of three

additional areas of intervention comprises the second

section: disease control, upgrading of livestock, and

wildlife management. Policy recommendations for expanding

production require recognition of the interrelationships

and relative significance of these various existing forms

of intervention.

Pricing and Marketing Policies
and a Changing Livestock Industry

Price Controls

There are basically four points of exchange in a

livestock industry, between producer and trader, trader

and wholesaler, wholesaler and retailer, and retailer and

consumer. In Kenya, the impact of price controls is felt

at each of these points.

Structure of controls and price levels. Price

discovery is usually by auction or through one-to-one

negotiation between buyer and seller at local-level

livestock markets in Kenya. Prices agreed upon in such


transactions are not directly administered. However, they

are indirectly influenced by controls at subsequent links

in the marketing chain, as well as by prices paid to

producers by the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC). The latter

set of prices, fixed by the Minister of Agriculture, can

be considered national floor prices. Prices paid producers

from 1973 to 1983 are shown in Table C.l. The grading

schedule was simplified in June, 1981, to help counteract

KMC's decline in throughput, an issue discussed below.

The average purchase price paid by KMC and the average

cold-dressed weight of livestock purchased, 1967 to 1980,

are shown in Table C.2. During the 1970s, real prices per

kg paid producers by KMC remained essentially unchanged

for cattle, while for small stock, especially goats, they

declined dramatically; mean cattle carcass weights fell by

nearly 20 percent, while small stock mean weights

increased by about the same proportion (Table 3.1).

Average cattle carcass weights in Kenya declined between

1977 and 1980, contrary to worldwide trends (Table 3.2).

African and developing nations in general maintained

constant carcass weight levels during this period and

developed nations recorded increasing average carcass

weights. The decline in Kenya's slaughter weights can be

attributed to internal factors, particularly meat price


At subsequent points of exchange, wholesale and retail

prices for beef, lamb, mutton, and goat meat are fixed by

the Minister of Finance, as empowered by the Price Control


Table 3.1. Percentage changes between 1972 and 1980 in real
prices and dressed weights of livestock pur-
chases by the Kenya Meat Commission

Change between 1972 and 1980

Mean Real Price Mean Dressed
per kg Carcass
Livestock Dressed Carcass Weight


Cattle + 1.2 -19.6


Lamb -18.0 -17.6

Sheep -22.4 +23.1

Goats -42.4 +20.0

Source: Appendix Table C.2.

aDeflated by the general consumer price index for Nairobi
[ILO 1982].

No recorded purchase of calves in 1980.