Internship/thesis on SNV market interventions in livestock production systems in Kenya

A real chance for MID or MDR students to experience how pastoralists’ livelihood practices are affected by climate variability and to be part of the day-to-day livelihoods of livestock keepers. The research can start soon and a combination of internship and thesis is feasible

Over the past 10 years, the Dutch development organization SNV has invested in various interventions to stimulate greater market orientation in livestock production systems in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands. These include co-management of livestock markets, intensification of animal fodder production, improvement of camel milk value chains, etc.. ILRI is currently collaborating with SNV in order to understand how these market-oriented interventions interact with climate resilience.

This collaboration takes place within the EU-funded 'Enhanced Community Resilience to Drought through Innovative Market Based Systems' project, located in Isiolo, Samburu, Marsabit, Baringo, Wajir & Tana River counties. This three-year project promotes pastoral livelihoods diversification, facilitates robust markets for livestock and livestock products, and enhances consolidation of knowledge base to enhance climate change adaptation and market orientation.

SNV and ILRI aim to examine whether/how SNV interventions that stimulate pastoralists’ market participation improves management of climate risks and conversely whether climate variability affects pastoralists’ engagement in markets. Documenting interactions between market stimulation, pastoralists’ livelihood practices and climate variability will provide empirical reference points for refining modes of market integration so that they serve both socio-economic needs as well as greater resilience to climate stress.

We are therefore currently seeking 2 interns and/or MSc thesis students to conduct ethnographic research on how the SNV interventions have interacted with the day-to-day livelihoods of livestock keepers, in terms of household and inter-household labor practices, institutional contexts and ecological dynamics. This is meant to create detailed documentation of how changes stimulated by increased market orientation affect and are affected by other elements in livestock producers’ socio-ecological contexts, particularly how they intersect with resilience to climate variability. The outputs of these research projects are meant to support SNV’s monitoring and evaluation efforts through a detailed analysis of processes of change rather than just outcomes.

The ideal candidate will have a strong social science background (anthropology, geography, sociology, etc.), with a fair understanding of environmental sciences.

In the course of the ethnographic research, interns/students are expected to spend approximately 10-12 weeks living in the rural communities where the interventions have occurred, plus another 4 weeks of write up the research report. SNV and ILRI staff will provide logistical and intellectual support during the field research and write up. This includes travel to and from field site, office space in Nanyuki, logistics support while away from field site and a $600 monthly stipend. The students’ operating costs will be covered during the fieldwork period.

Expected output from this project is a 30 page findings report to be submitted to ILRI and SNV. The fieldwork for this research can be used for an MSc thesis.