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1 March 2010 The Prevalence of Wild Food Knowledge Among Nomadic Turkana of Northern Kenya
Tammy Y. Watkins
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Food insecurity is a chronic problem for much of East Africa and especially among Turkana pastoralists of northern Kenya. Uncertain physical and social environments, high seasonality of rainfall with cyclical droughts, human and animal diseases and civic insecurity contribute to food insecurity. Researchers often paint the environment as harsh, unforgiving and desolate, yet also acknowledge that the Turkana use wild food resources. This research explores the persistence of wild food knowledge using methods drawn from both cognitive and ethnoecological anthropology and the possible implications among the Turkana. Wild food resources are a strong domain of knowledge that crosses boundaries of age, sex and location. I assess differences in cultural salience between sexes. Follow up questions suggest that cultural practices related to division of labor explain some of these differences. Wild food resources are clearly important to Turkana livelihoods, yet they are infrequently addressed in development programs and only marginally addressed in food security research. More research needs to be conducted on the nutritional contributions of these resources, specific management practices of the resources and how they could be incorporated into policy and development programs for the region.

Tammy Y. Watkins "The Prevalence of Wild Food Knowledge Among Nomadic Turkana of Northern Kenya," Journal of Ethnobiology 30(1), 137-152, (1 March 2010).
Published: 1 March 2010
East Africa
wild foods
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