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Stories of Change

Using a storytelling approach, this special series of short stories communicates the impact of FAO's work on prevention and response to transboundary threats, told through the voice of the individuals affected.

Maasai communities in Kenya adapting to climate change by adopting smart-agriculture practices

Two Maasai pastoralists have been instrumental in boosting small-scale subsistence agriculture and improving the nutrition and health of their families and communities in Kajiado County

©IAEA/L. Heng

In the Rift Valley, in the rain shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro and close to the border with the United Republic of Tanzania, the Maasai groups of Naishorua, Silale, Menjele, Innkarukok olmane and Olroup live in the heart of Kenya’s Maasai Land: the Kajiado County, with its dryland conditions and semi-arid climate. The livelihoods of the Maasai groups depend on nomadic pastoralism to a far greater extent than on crop and livestock production. Traditionally, the men take care of the cattle and the women practise subsistence agriculture.

Heavily dependent on rainfed conditions, pastoral lifestyle is highly vulnerable to climate change and the resulting hazards of drought, increased temperatures and soil moisture stress. Reduced annual rainfalls exacerbate the challenges related to water scarcity and pasture degradation, threatening the traditional Maasai pastoral lifestyle and related livelihoods.

Today, Maasai men must leave their families for longer times and travel further in search of pasture and water resources for their livestock, thus contributing to the increased transboundary movement of various animal herds in the region. Using their observation and understanding of the changing weather patterns, these pastoral communities have been seeking to adapt to the ever-changing climate in an attempt to protect their livelihoods and lifestyle.