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Maasai Socioeconomic Conditions: A Cross-Border Comparison

Ernestina Coast
Human Ecology
Vol. 30, No. 1 (Mar., 2002), pp. 79-105
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4603418
Page Count: 27
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Maasai Socioeconomic Conditions: A Cross-Border Comparison
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Abstract

A single round household survey was conducted between October 1997 and May 1998. Information was collected on 1545 Maasai households in Kenya and Tanzania using a standardized questionnaire. These data represent the first large-scale, cross-border comparable survey of socioeconomic indicators for the Maasai. The structure of the study is similar to that of a natural experiment: one ethnic group living in two very different nation-states. The survey results describe a current "snapshot" of Maasai livelihoods. Living arrangements are described at both the household (olmarei) and multihousehold (enkang) level, together with changes in housing type. The roles of cultivation, transhumant migration, and employment are described, including a consideration of the prevalence of murranism (warriorhood). The implications of rising levels of sedentarization and cash crop production for Maasai economic diversification are explored. Participation by Maasai in the tourism industry is extremely low despite the proximity of Maasai to major international tourist destinations in East Africa. Levels of formal education show a marked sex bias in completed primary school education in both countries, with far fewer women than men having attended school.

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