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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 2.124

Mobile Livelihoods and Urban Development: Researching Turkana pastoralists from 1987 to 2018


  • Prof. Ulrike SCHULTZ

Primary authors


In my PhD research conducted between 1989 and 1994 in Lodwar I came to the conclusion that pastoral and urban livelihoods are closely connected. Pastoral households rely on an urban branch of the household not only to access education and health services but also as a way of diversifying the family income. Income generated in the informal sector of the urban settlements served as an insurance in the time of drought and conflicts in the pastoral areas. Vice versa, livelihoods in town often depended on the relationship to the pastoral areas. For instance, school fees were paid by selling livestock. The boundaries between urban and rural life seemed to be fluid. The narratives of the people independently of living in Lodwar or in the pastoral areas showed a great extent of spatial and social mobility. In the context of my PhD research I conceptualized Lodwar as a pastoral town – a town, which connects Turkana pastoralists to the nation state and the market economy. In the paper I want to address how the recent economic change and the development of Lodwar has influenced these linkages and how it has affected the livelihoods of Turkana people. Economic Development does not only mean more roads, permanent buildings, banks and taxi services but also the commercialization of urban land and the monetization of social relationships. The paper is based on interviews and participants observation during short field visits from 2011 to 2018 and reflections on past researches conducted between 1987 and 1995.