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Reviews

Vol. 2 No. 2 (2023)

Nexus Between Climate Change Induced Livelihood Stress and Women's Mental Health in Pastoralist Communities of Kenya

Published
2023-07-21

Abstract

Pastoralist communities in Kenya are facing increasing challenges due to climate change, which exacerbates livelihood stress and has significant implications for mental health, particularly among women. These communities rely heavily on livestock for their sustenance and economic stability. However, erratic weather patterns, prolonged droughts, and other climate-related disruptions have severely impacted their livelihoods. Women in these communities bear a disproportionate burden due to their roles in managing households and securing resources, making them particularly vulnerable to the mental health impacts of livelihood stress. Therefore, this study nexus between climate change-induced livelihood stress and women's mental health in pastoralist communities of Kenya. The review entailed a systematic search of relevant scholarly articles published between 2013 and 2023. Various search engines and databases were used, including Scopus, Google Scholar, Web of Science, Google, Academia, Research Gate, African Journal Online, Science Direct, and PubMed. The findings indicated that Kenya has been severely affected by climate change, experiencing increased frequency and severity of droughts, particularly in the northern regions. These changes have resulted in erratic and unpredictable rainfall, severely impacting the arid and semi-arid lands that constitute 88% of Kenya's land mass. The resulting water scarcity and reduced forage availability have led to significant losses in livestock, which are key for the survival and economic stability of  pastoralist communities. High rates of mental health disorders such as PTSD, sleep disorders and suicidal thoughts among women in these communities. Further, the increased caregiving responsibilities for undernourished family members and livestock place an extra physical and emotional strain on women, often leading to fatigue and burnout. Extreme weather patterns have also heightened the risks of violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence and child marriages, as families resort to these measures in the face of severe economic distress. The ongoing humanitarian crisis, with persistent drought and unpredictable rainfall, continues to exacerbate these vulnerabilities, further impacting the mental health and well-being of women in these communities. This study recommends that there is need for government and non-governmental organization to enhance livelihood diversification, mental health support and conflict resolution initiatives among women.

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