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Understanding the Dynamics of Water Scarcity and Violence in Kenya

Can indigenous systems of water stewardship avert violent conflict over water sources?

Water scarcity is now a pervasive feature of Kenya’s social ecology, attributed variously to growing demographic pressures, land use changes, environmental degradation, and the apparent influences of climate change. This project seeks to explore how local communities cope with water scarcity: Are indigenous systems of water stewardship sufficiently robust to avert violent conflict over access to and control of water sources? Combining methodologies from history and political science, the project aims to document the historical approaches to water stewardship in three Kenyan counties – Narok, Marsabit and Isiolo – and assess the current dynamics of conflict around water use and access in these arid and semi-arid lands. It is expected that assessment of the spatial and temporal relationships between violence and water scarcity will allow policy recommendations to be made regarding conflict avoidance and the sustainable management of the hydroscape. 

Research TeamProfessor David Anderson, University of Warwick; Professor Kennedy Mkutu, United States International University, Kenya 

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International

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