The biosocial consequences of life on the run: A case study from Turkana district, Kenya

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35 Scopus citations


Throughout East Africa, pastoralist populations live in harsh physical environments coupled with constant threats of livestock raiding and generally widespread insecurity. In this uncertain backdrop, pastoralist families must search for safe and secure forage and water for their herds. The Turkana of Kenya, a good example of a pastoralist group facing such threats, dodge insecurity by constant movement into unfriendly and unknown territory. In addition, Turkana herd owners move in very large herding groups with armed guards. As data from a 1998 field season suggest, such strategies have important consequences. These consequences are both social and biological and include modifications in social organization, diet, and the avoidance of health centers. The psychosocial consequences also are notable. As disruptive as the worst drought, insecurity has the potential to threaten not only the social well-being of pastoralists but also their health and survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-235
Number of pages15
JournalHuman organization
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


  • Armed conflict
  • Coping strategies
  • Kenya
  • Psychosocial stress
  • Turkana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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