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The Struggle to Diversify Rural Livelihoods: Bio-enterprise Initiatives and their Impacts on Agro-Pastoralists and Pastoralists Communities in the Drylands of Kenya


  • Susie Wren

    (Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Bio-enterprise Development Programme, Nanyuki)

  • Chinwe Ifejika Speranza

    (German Development Institute, Tulpenfeld 6, D-53113 Bonn)


This article analyses the impacts of four different bio-enterprise initiatives on agro-pastoral livelihoods and on improved natural resources management (NRM) in the drylands of Kenya. In this way it contributes to an area of rural development that is gaining increasing interest, but still has little empirical evidence. Data were collected through interviews, focus group discussions, informal discussions and the study of reports. One of the key findings of this article is that diversification into enterprises requires cooperation among the stakeholders with their varying experiences in development, NRM and business development. In addition to initial investments, such enterprises need sustained financial, as well as other support like capacity development to survive the market introduction phase. For such enterprises to defend their market niches, the quantity and quality of the product are critical. In addition to support in human, financial, social, physical and natural capital, mentoring is another crucial factor for success.Cet article analyse l'impact de quatre entreprises biologiques différentes sur les moyens de subsistance des communautés (agro-)pastorales et la gestion améliorée des ressources naturelles dans les zones arides du Kenya. Ce faisant, il apporte une contribution à un domaine du développement rural qui fait l'objet d'un intérêt croissant mais qui reste empiriquement peu exploré. Les données ont été recueillies lors d'entretiens, de réunions de groupes, de discussions informelles et de lectures de rapports. Un des résultats clés mis en exergue par cet article est que la conversion vers des activités biologiques nécessite une coopération entre les parties prenantes, dont les niveaux d'expérience dans les domaines du développement, de la gestion des ressources naturelles et du développement commercial varient. Outre l'investissement initial, de telles entreprises dépendent non seulement d'un appui financier constant mais également d'un soutien au renforcement de leurs capacités afin de survivre à la phase de lancement sur le marché. Pour que de telles entreprises restent bien positionnées dans leur niche, la quantité et la qualité de leurs produits jouent un rôle crucial. Outre le soutien en ressources humaines, financières, sociales, physiques et naturelles, le mentoring constitue un autre facteur crucial de succès.

Suggested Citation

  • Susie Wren & Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, 2010. "The Struggle to Diversify Rural Livelihoods: Bio-enterprise Initiatives and their Impacts on Agro-Pastoralists and Pastoralists Communities in the Drylands of Kenya," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 22(5), pages 751-769, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:22:y:2010:i:5:p:751-769

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