Religion and Climate Change in Northern Kenya

New Moral Frameworks for New Environmental Challenges?


  • Elizabeth E. Watson University of Cambridge
  • Hassan Hussein Kochore National Museums of Kenya



climate change, religion, pastoralism, development, environment, northern Kenya, mobility


In the arid lands of northern Kenya, the pastoralist livelihoods of Boran and Gabra peoples are already under pressure from environmental changes that are increasingly perceived as related to climate change. Indigenous religions, different forms of Christianity, and Islam all co-exist in this region; each potentially has a role to play in responding to the environmental crisis. Our research suggests that indigenous religions provide a valuable and integrated set of institutions that could potentially facilitate adaptation to climate change. In contrast, the Abrahamic religions have not explicitly engaged with climate change. Moreover, through their relief and development work they have indirectly undermined many of the qualities of mobile pastoralism that might enable herders to cope with more unpredictable weather in future. Noting that religions appear to be playing a powerful role in the region, we argue that the subject deserves greater attention among scholars of climate change.


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How to Cite

Watson, E. E., & Kochore, H. H. (2012). Religion and Climate Change in Northern Kenya: New Moral Frameworks for New Environmental Challenges?. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 6(3), 319–343.