‘Gaafa dhaabaa - the period of stop’: Narrating impacts of shifta insurgency on pastoral economy in northern Kenya, c. 1963 to 2007

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Khalif, Zeinabu Kabale; & Gufu Oba (2013) ‘Gaafa dhaabaa - the period of stop’: Narrating impacts of shifta insurgency on pastoral economy in northern Kenya, c. 1963 to 2007, Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 3(15): 1–20.

​​​​In northern Kenya, there have been limited discussions on the impacts of the 1960 to 1968 insurgency wars and subsequent banditry on the long-term impacts of the pastoral economy. This is despite the societies’ vivid memories of the effects of these wars, from which research would gain a long-term outlook about consequences on rural economies. We present an understanding of the long-term impact of the shifta (term used at that period by the Kenyan Government) for the secessionist war fought by the Somali insurgents with the armed forces of Kenya between 1963 and 1968. We evaluate the impact of the shifta insurgency, the army's counter-insurgency and the subsequent insecurity on the recovery of the pastoral economy between 1984 and 2007. We interviewed members of three communities in Isiolo District in Kenya affected by the shifta war. The research shows that the livestock herds of the communities have not achieved the levels of recovery of the pre-shifta war forty-four years after that conflict ended. Persistent banditry and recurrent droughts are blamed by the pastoralists for the lack of recovery of the pastoral herds of the three communities. The article concludes that armed conflicts, coupled with risks of droughts, have a long-term impact on the pastoral economy.​

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