Water Governance, Institutions and Conflicts in the Maasai Rangelands

Release date: 2022-09

Water scarcity in Narok county, Kenya may be attributed to demographic pressures, land-use changes, environmental degradation and the effects of climate change. This article combines methodologies from history and political science to investigate how local communities cope with water scarcity. In so doing, we consider how institutions, both indigenous and modern, mitigate conflict over access to and control of water sources. Cases are presented from sites of irrigation and development projects or plans. We find that climate change has little to do with water conflicts in Narok, but that more important factors are privatisation and commoditisation of formerly common-pool resources, and challenges and failures in modern water governance in mediating between Maasai (pastoralist) and non-Maasai (agriculturalist) groups. Indigenous governance institutions still have a place in conflict resolution and environmental protection.

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