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Briefing Note: Turkana pastoralists at risk: Why education matters

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Abstract

Turkana pastoralists in north-western Kenya have always depended on their livestock for their livelihoods. Goats, sheep, camels, cattle, and donkeys are the common types of livestock within these communities. Livestock keeping is at the centre of the lives of these communities because it forms the basis of their diet (meat, milk and blood) and of their income. It is also an important element of cultural heritage for Turkana pastoralists because it is linked to traditional practices including the use of animals for payment of dowry (bride price) during marriages, for food during ceremonies and celebrations, for kinship support (e.g. during sickness, death) and for prestige and social status. Turkana pastoralists are exposed to increasing risks such as drought and livestock diseases, in an environment of limited infrastructure and low educational engagement, leading to poverty and inequality. Due to their overreliance on livestock, these risks have adverse effects on their livelihoods, making education an important investment for improving livelihoods.