Recent trends and implications of group ranch sub-division and fragmentation in Kajiado District, Kenya

Kamau Kimani*, John Pickard

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    122 Citations (Scopus)


    The Kenyan Government introduced group ranches in Kajiado District in the 1960s. They were aimed at addressing the problem of overgrazing and land degradation, said to be occurring in the pastoral arid and semi-arid areas, by converting communal to group tenure. This was expected to encourage the Maasai nomadic pastoralists to confine their livestock within ranch boundaries and reduce their livestock numbers. Although group ranches in Kajiado failed to meet these expectations, they secured the Maasai's traditional land against alienation by non-Maasai. Thereafter, the Maasai continued using their land along traditional lines, which is increasingly being recognized as the most efficient and sustainable use. Group ranch sub-division into individual plots in Kajiado began in the 1980s with government support. Further fragmentation of plots and sale, in many cases to non-Maasai, followed sub-division. Average plot sizes have decreased, while the number of fenced properties and the levels of cultivation have increased. Due to sub-division, the Maasai are gradually losing their best land and are being pushed into the drier areas. Sub-division will threaten continued extensive nomadic livestock production by decreasing mobility and the carrying capacity of group ranch land, increase the potential for land degradation and crop failures, and interfere with traditional wildlife migration patterns.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)202-213
    Number of pages12
    JournalGeographical Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998


    • group ranches
    • Kenya rangelands
    • land degradation
    • Maasai
    • sub-division


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