Drought in Eastern Kenya: comparative observations of nutritional status and farmer activity at 17 sites
Mbithi, Philip M.
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This paper is the first of a series of reports dealing with man-environment- technology relationships. In this study, agricultural drought is viewed as a natural, though extreme, outcome of the inter-action of man and nature. All human rural systems are seen as organized to continue to function within diverse environmental circumstances and therefore "adjusting" to give rise to practices, institutions and linkages which increase adaptation and consistency. The study attempts to portray farm level decision making as an adjustment behaviour and relates this to environmental circumstances. It shows that many diverse rural activities such as praying, rainmaking, irrigation, crop spacing, frequent weeding, migration, prostitution, poaching and intensified reciprocity norms all fit into the framework of adjustment behaviour. One of the more important findings of the study is the realization that a relatively low cost and high benefit approach for government, in dealing with drought problems, is to build dry land farming research and development programmes upon the local patterns of adjustment. This arises from the realization that the complexity, variety and flexibility of farm and village adjustments are closely tied to existing local techno-socio-economic definitions of the environment and not to central planning statistical insights.