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BIEA Annual Lecture

Pastoralist Heritage and Sustainable Development in Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia

In this lecture we present the initial results of an ongoing collaborative research project supported by the British Academy between archaeologists and pastoralist community organisations on the long-term history of indigenous water management and well digging in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia, and their related settlement history. Conceived as a community archaeology project from the outset on the biocultural heritage of extant and abandoned wells, the project has brought together various local stakeholders with diverse knowledge, skills, and experience to exchange understandings of pastoralist self-organisation and sustainable development in these arid but resilient landscapes. Currently, Demand for water drives government and investor development in these arid regions and is focused on building infrastructure to extract new energy sources (oil, wind, hydroelectric) to the exclusion of pastoralist rangelands and water points. While creating new economic and employment opportunities and intended to enhance water security in the region, these projects have also posed both physical and ontological threats to pastoralist heritage in both southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya, raising key questions as to how best to integrate the protection and celebration of cultural practices and traditions and heritage sites alongside providing socio-ecological development initiatives that meet community-determined values, procedures, and priorities. The lecture will present an overview of the project and its key findings and impacts. This will be followed by a roundtable discussion with some of our core project collaborators and other invited commentators.

Online only event




Jan 11 2023


9:00 pm - 10:30 pm

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