Human Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 385–402

Drought and economic differentiation among Ariaal pastoralists of Kenya

  • Elliot Fratkin
  • Eric Abella Roth

DOI: 10.1007/BF00889464

Cite this article as:
Fratkin, E. & Roth, E.A. Hum Ecol (1990) 18: 385. doi:10.1007/BF00889464


This paper examines the effects of the 1984 drought upon household wealth differences in a community of Ariaal pastoralists of northern Kenya. The database consists of 1985 post-drought livestock counts and informants' statements of species-specific drought loss, compared to 1976 livestock counts on the same 38 households. The analysis confirms the hypothesis that the drought resulted in increased household wealth inequalities. It is suggested that the combination of differential herd growth, differential participation in the cash market, and differential loss to the drought has contributed to a polarization within Ariaal of rich and poor, resulting in rural proletarianization and urban migration.

Key words

droughtKenyapastoralismwealth inequality

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliot Fratkin
    • 1
  • Eric Abella Roth
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyPenn State UniversityUniversity Park
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada