Gendered dimensions of water security risk in the context of climate variability, sedentarisation and institutional pluralism for pastoralist households in Northern Kenya

Pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya face increasing water security risks attributable to disruptions in their hydro-climatic and socio-ecological environments. Sedentary pastoralists, women and children are most vulnerable to spatial-temporal variations in water availability. This vulnerability is exacerbated by embedded power relations within existing socio-cultural and water governance systems.

The Catalyst grant study examined pastoralist women’s disempowerment in relation to the domestic water security constraints they face in the Samburu and Maasai tribes in the arid and semi-arid areas (ASALs) of Northern Kenya. The research found subjective evidence that women with diversified livelihoods and social capital are more resilient to water stress (read the blog).

The Accelerated project will build on these findings aiming to provide empirical evidence on factors behind water security and factors that enhance resilience for vulnerable pastoralist communities.

This project is one of five Accelerated Projects funded through our Partnership Funding.


Empowerment and water among pastoralist women in Northern Kenya. (2018). Centre for Humanitarian Change, Research brief.

Credit: Nancy Balfour


October 2017 – June 2019




  • Centre for Humanitarian Change (CHC)


The unbearable burden of water insecurity for pastoralist women in Northern Kenya, November 2017
Understanding empowerment and water security with pastoralist women in Kenya, April 2017

Nancy Balfour, CHC

‘Pastoralist women again carried the main burden of the stress during the drought in 2017. We hope that gaining a better understanding of the complexities of water insecurity in these households will help design systems to deliver more reliable water services in the future’

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