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Climate variability and flexibility in resource access: the case of pastoral mobility in Northern Kenya



In many regions of the world, property rights to natural resources are held under various forms of communal ownership, which often exhibit flexibility for users to access different resources depending on relative need. This paper explores the links between climate variability, transactions costs associated with resource access, and patterns of herd mobility in northern Kenya. Results indicate that greater spatial variability of vegetation leads to greater herd mobility, and that higher transaction costs reduce mobility for herds engaged in long-distance movements. Moreover, long-distance mobility is higher in drought years only in those communities with greater spatial and seasonal variability of vegetation.


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The authors thank John McPeak (Syracuse University) and Chris Barrett (Cornell University), for providing the survey data and collaboration and feedback; data was collected under the Global-Livestock Collaborative Research and Support Program led by Utah State, Pastoral Risk Management Project. They also thank Jordan Chamberlin of IFPRI for the work on climatic data, and Rachel Goodhue for inputs into the theoretical model.



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