Pastoral mobility is seen as the most effective strategy to make use of constantly shifting resources. However, mobile pastoralism as a highly-valued strategy to manage grazing areas and exploit resource variability is becoming more complex, due to recurrent droughts, loss of forage, government-led settlement schemes, and enclosure of land for community conservation, among other reasons. Yet knowledge of how Samburu pastoralists perceive these changes, and govern and innovate in their mobility patterns and resource use, has received limited attention. This paper seeks to understand how Samburu pastoralists in the drylands of northern Kenya use and govern natural resources, how livestock grazing and mobility is planned for, and how boundaries and territory are constructed and performed both within and beyond the context of (non)governmental projects. Fieldwork for this paper was conducted in Sesia, Samburu East, and consisted of interviews, focus group discussions, and participatory observation. Findings show that livestock mobility involves longer periods and more complex distances due to a shrinking resource base and new rules of access. Although access was previously generated based on the value of reciprocity, the creation of new forms of resource management results in conditional processes of inclusion and exclusion. Policy and project implementation has historically been driven by the imperative to secure land tenure and improve pasture in bounded areas. Opportunities to support institutions that promote mobility have been given insufficient attention.
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