Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 231–243 | Cite as

Eliciting indigenous knowledge on tree fodder among Maasai pastoralists via a multi-method sequencing approach

  • Evelyne Kiptot
In the field


Although the potential of indigenous knowledge in sustainable natural resource management has been recognized, methods of gathering and utilizing it effectively are still being developed and tested. This paper focuses on various methods used in gathering knowledge on the use and management of tree fodder resources among the Maasai community of Kenya. The methods used were (1) a household survey to collect socio-economic data and identify key topics and informants for the subsequent knowledge elicitation phase; (2) semi-structured interviews using key informants to gather in-depth information; (3) tree inventory to collect quantitative data on the ecological status of trees and shrubs on rangelands; and (4) group consensus method to countercheck information elicited from key informants. Study results obtained show that the use of multiple methods in an appropriate sequence is an effective way of building upon the information elicited from each stage. It also facilitates the collection of different types of data and knowledge allowing a measure of triangulation, which can be used to confirm the validity and consistency of indigenous knowledge. Multiple methods also allow the collection of more knowledge than can be obtained if only one method is used. Therefore, it is recommended that future studies on indigenous knowledge systems use multiple methods that combine both individual and group interviews in order to obtain more complete and accurate information.


Indigenous knowledge Kenya Maasai Multiple elicitation methods Pastoralists Tree fodder resources 


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The Research Program on Sustainable use of Dryland Biodiversity (RPSUD), National Museums of Kenya is gratefully acknowledged for providing financial support. Special thanks also go to the Kenya Forestry Research Institute for providing technical and logistical support, Paul Kibera and Stanly Mukishoe for their assistance in data collection. Two anonymous reviewers who provided useful comments on an earlier draft are also acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kenya Forestry Research InstituteNairobiKenya

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