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A semi-nomadic, Northern Maa-speaking pastoralist society closely related to the Masai. The Samburu territory, now defined as the political unit Samburu County, is located in North central Kenya, just below the plain that leads to Lake Turkana. To the outer world, and to the Samburu themselves, their culture is identified with colorful, elaborately-dressed warriors and a rigidly structured society broken down by sex and age. Herds of cows, and the consumption and use of cow milk fermented in previously prepared wooden containers, of which there are nearly twenty specific varieties, itself served to reinforce the social hierarchy. In terms of calories, milk was the staple food. No cows means no need for warriors. No need for warriors, and the whole structure of the culture changes. Milk from cows is the only milk adult Samburu consume as a drink. Other milks, goat, sheep, and camel, are boiled up with tea and sugar.
Climate change manifested as deeper and more frequent droughts, compounded by overgrazing, has decimated the Samburu Lowlands savannah grasslands. Cows, the most prized animal, can no longer be supported. Some of the land is so degraded that goats can die of starvation, even during a good rainy season. Large areas are the victim of both sheeting and gully erosion. The land is a commons, although land management, and ownership is in flux as devolution begins to shift land use regulations to the Samburu County Council. There is currently no large scale or systematic program of remediation.