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Lesorogol, C. | Chowa, G.
2010 | Kenya

Livestock or the pen: Is education a route out of poverty for pastoralists?


Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya experience chronic poverty and often express the belief that formal education may be an alternative route out of poverty. The roles of parental wealth, livestock inheritance and formal education in household wealth (measured in livestock holdings) and income are investigated using quantitative and qualitative research methods and building on our long-term research among the Samburu. Findings from qualitative interviews examine how livestock are passed from one generation to the next, illuminating the important role of inter vivos transfers of livestock in distributing wealth among sons, and the advantages of being part of a wealthy family for retaining and rebuilding herds. Interviews indicate that Samburu people are sending more children to school, with the belief that it constitutes one means to overcome poverty through employment and gains in skills and knowledge. Quantitative analyses indicate that parental wealth and primary education, but not amount of livestock inherited, are positively associated with household wealth status. While individuals with primary education have higher incomes on average than those with less education, the difference in income is not statistically significant. Thus, while livestock inheritance does not translate directly into greater wealth in the next generation, there do appear to be structural advantages to membership in a wealthier family.



Lesorogol, C., & Chowa G.A.N . (2010, October 12). Livestock or the pen: Is education a route out of poverty for pastoralists? Presented at the Overseas Development Institute Inheritance and the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty Conference, London, England