I have spent the past four years building a relationship with the Daasanach community in Northwest Kenya. My plan is to eventually live within the community for months at a time in order to better document all facets of their lives.
There is no certainty as to the population of the Daasanach but a rough estimation according to the census conducted on the Kenyan side in the year 2009, the number was 10,000. They are made up of eight distinct ancestral/tribal sections, each with its own name, though collectively they call themselves “‘Daasanach”, and they all speak the same language and for the most part share the same cultural practices. There is an estimation of between 60-80,000 who frequent between the Kenya/Ethiopia boarder. They are traditionally both fishermen and nomadic herders.
Over the past 75 years they have lost the majority of their grazing land in Kenya, including on both sides of Lake Turkana, and the ‘Ilemi Triangle’ of Sudan, which has resulted in a massive decrease in the numbers of cattle, goats and sheep. This, coupled with severe climate change and an increase in population, has created a famine situation every year for the past 10-15 years.
The point of this project is to document these cyclical patterns within the community in order to draw attention both to global warming, as well as the need for investment in long-term sustainable agriculture solutions to deal with the famine. Attention is only given to these areas when crisis hits and this is not a real solution to the problems these people face.
Being that this is a long-term project, there is also the desire to document as the community shifts from traditional and nomadic ways to a more modern society.