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A Turkana herder walking in the arid Turkana Centre golden plains © Greta Semplici
In Turkana (north-western Kenya) many pastoralists practice mobile lifestyles, migrating with their families and herds as the seasons change. However, they remain well connected to urban centres, often trekking long distances to visit relatives and gather news in emerging towns and settlements.

The term 'mobile peoples' encompasses diverse groups, including mobile pastoralists, itinerant service-providers, Travellers, and some Romani communities. These groups differ from refugees and migrant workers in that their mobility is not a strategic response to displacement or poverty; rather, mobility is central to cultural, economic and political organisation, and a unifying value for group identity.

The problem that we address is the invisibility and marginality of mobile peoples in mainstream development, which often privileges sedentary populations by promoting static infrastructure, fixed residence, urban service provision and private ownership of land and resources.

The aim of this project is to build a cross-regional evidence base about the effects of 'sedentist' development policies on mobile peoples, and to propose models that better accommodate their livelihoods and lifestyles.

RSC Investigators

  • Dawn Chatty
    Dawn Chatty

    Emerita Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration; former Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, 2011-2014

External Co-Investigators

Dr Ariell Ahearn Ligham (School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford)

Dr Greta Semplici (European University Institute)

Dr Marco Solimene (University of Iceland)

Dr Stefania Pontrandolfo (Università degli Studi di Verona)