Understanding the History and Structure of Pastoral-Trader Relationships for enhancing equitable market access among the Turkana pastoralists of Northern Kenya

Faculty Research Grant
Grant Year

Research project, “Understanding the History and Structure of Pastoral-Trader Relationships for Enhancing Equitable Market Access Among the Turkana Pastoralists of Northern Kenya.” This funding supports Oka's investigation into the factors underlying minority group exclusion from markets and to explore approaches for enhanced market access. Oka will explore the exclusion of Turkana pastoralists from the livestock markets of Lodwar and Kakuma towns in Turkana District, Northern Kenya through ethnographic research between June 2011 and August 2012. Policy-makers blame this exclusion on Somali traders whose ‘cartels’ control the markets and/or the Turkana ‘reluctance/inability’ to understand markets. Attempts such as introduction of cell phones for price information, Local Market Associations (LMA), and middlemen exclusion have failed, as they ignore the Turkana knowledge of prices despite exclusion, the complexity of Turkana-Somali relationships, and the Somali market control. Both sides acknowledge each other’s role and while the Turkana desire market access, the Somali are willing to open markets but not to their own detriment. Interventions need to account for the nuanced history and structure of these continuing relationships.