Mobile Phone Technology and Natural Resource Access in the Drought Prone Samburu County, Kenya
Drought is a major problem for pastoralists living in the arid and semi-arid lands of northern Kenya (Schilling & Remling, 2011). Livestock mobility is a key drought coping strategy that Samburu pastoralists employ in a bid to manage their ever-changing environment (Handley, 2012; Galvin, 2009; Easterling et al, 2007). Since beginning of the 21st Century, mobile phone technology has spread quickly across Kenya including the arid and semi arid lands of the northern part of the country. Like most Kenyans, pastoralists have adopted mobile phone technology for a variety usage and purposes (Butt, 2014 in press; FAO, 2013). This thesis focuses on 1999-2000 and 2009 drought periods with an aim of finding out how use of mobile phones by Samburu pastoralists has influenced livestock mobility as a drought coping strategy. The study documents changes in the geography of drought refuge areas between 1999-2000 and 2009 drought periods. It establishes that Samburu pastoralists are indeed using mobile phone technology as part of their livestock mobility strategy, but that the impact of the technology on how they cope with drought is dependent on their existing social networks. Further, relative to use of mobile phone technology, the study finds that over-arching drivers of change including violent conflict, reduction in herd size, and livelihood diversification were the primary drivers of the observed changes in geography of drought refuge areas between 1999-2000 and 2009 drought periods.