Maasai socioeconomic conditions: a cross-border comparison

Maasai socioeconomic conditions: a cross-border comparison

Low levels of educational attainment and decreasing ability to respond to subsistence crises could threaten Maasai livelihoods

This study describes the results of a large-scale household survey of Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania. Data was collected using a standardised questionnaire adapted to a Maasai context and represent the first cross-border directly comparable set of data on current Maasai socio-economic conditions. The project was mainly concerned with assessing the long-term outcomes of different land-use policies on environment, wildlife and socioeconomic indicators in the Serengeti–Mara ecosystem in Kenya and Tanzania.

The study aims to provide and analysis of the differences and similarities in socio-economic conditions experienced by Maasai living in Kenya and Tanzania and enable a broader understanding of contemporary Maasai lives and livelihoods in both countries

The study reveals that:

  • although Maasai remain primarily livestock owners agriculture is playing a greater role in their lives. There has been a rapid uptake of cash-crop cultivation in both countries
  • Maasai households in Kenya demonstrated a lower level of transhumance due largely to factors such as increasing individualisation of land tenure
  • opportunities for direct employment are limited for all Maasai but women remain less integrated than men in the "nontraditional" economic system
  • on the whole women have lower levels of educational attainment than men

To conclude the study suggests that relatively low levels of education and a decreasing ability to respond effectively to subsistence crises may cause the Maasai to become increasingly exposed to marginalisation and destitution in the future.

[This summary links to an alternative provider as the document is no longer available from the origional publisher]

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.