CR 19:161-172 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/cr019161

Impacts of climate variability on East African pastoralists: linking social science and remote sensing

Kathleen A. Galvin1,2,*, Randall B. Boone1, Nicole M. Smith2, Stacy J. Lynn3

1Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory,
2Department of Anthropology,
3Department of Rangeland Ecosystem Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA

ABSTRACT: In this paper we review the effects of the 1997 drought and the 1998 El Niño rains on Maasai herders in northern Tanzania and explore with satellite data the degree to which we can expand the spatial scale of the analysis. Hierarchical cluster analyses of regional vegetation biomass trends are used and are associated with the results of surveys conducted among the Maasai. The methods attempt to extend local-level survey data to landscape and regional scales. We were able to link the household production information to clusters of vegetation biomass, thus expanding the scale of the analysis. The analysis demonstrates the potential for spatial generalizations from an understanding of social processes at the local level for policy for mitigation and adaptation for dealing with climate variability.


KEY WORDS: Social science · Remote sensing · Climate variability · East Africa · Pastoralists


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