UA-led study grapples with health effects of low-intensity warfare

December 11, 2009

For nearly two decades, Ivy Pike, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona, has been studying ethnic groups in rural northern Kenya to understand how violence shapes the health of those eking out a living there.

The results of her and her colleagues' research," Documenting the health consequences of endemic warfare in three pastoralist communities of northern Kenya: A conceptual framework," is currently published in a special edition of Social Science and Medicine, in collaboration with the British medical journal the Lancet and the Journal of the Danish Medical Association.

These studies also set the stage for Global Response 2010, an international conference on violent conflict and health worldwide. The conference begins Jan. 22 in Copenhagen and is geared for humanitarian workers, physicians, political leaders and academicians working on violence and health.

Pike said their paper offers a "conceptual framework that lays out the importance of methods and approaches to document violence." While considerable research has documented social responses to the ongoing and chronic warfare among groups, there is much less data on how conflict affects community health.

Pike has been studying three nomadic communities - the Pokot, Samburu and Turkana. Like other groups that live in northen Kenya, all are pastoralists, herding cattle, goats, sheep and camels between pasture and water. The region, about the size of Texas, has virtually no infrastructure. Literacy hovers at between 7 and 8 percent.

For hundreds of years, friction between these groups has centered largely on access to scarce grazing and water, and by livestock theft. Persistent drought over the last several years has raised tensions all the more, aggravated further by the introduction of firearms, especially automatic weapons in recent years.

Pike said that households she first studied in the early 1990s that might have had military-issue rifles, by mid-decade all had AK-47s.

"It's easy to treat this violence as cattle rustling, but it's much more complicated, with disparate impacts on people's daily lives and health," Pike said.

"We're documenting nutritional change over time. That's important because families that are nomads are very dependent on their livestock, so any shift in holdings or their animals' access to food and water impacts food security," she said.

While young men are killed or wounded by gunfire in raids, Pike said women and children also bear a considerable load from the violence. "The tendency is to say more young men are dying, but I can't substantiate that at this point. It looks like the fallout for women and children is just as high."

Men generally have better health because they travel with the herds and consequently have better access to meat and milk. Women will sacrifice to feed their children and older women will protect young mothers. All women will forego food when their children are hungry. This makes women an important barometer of health and well-being, especially when their specific group has born the brunt of a violent attack.

Still, there is almost no data on the links between violence and armed conflict to shifts in health. Pike said pursuing this line of research has implications for many of the under-developed and developing regions of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, where violence has increased dramatically related to displaced populations.
-end-


University of Arizona

Related Violence Articles from Brightsurf:

Combined intimate partner violence that includes sexual violence is common & more damaging
Women who experience sexual violence combined with other forms of intimate partner violence suffer greater damage to their health and are much more likely to attempt suicide, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Bristol's Centre for Academic Primary Care published in the International Journal of Epidemiology today [12 November 2020].

As farming developed, so did cooperation -- and violence
The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.

The front line of environmental violence
Environmental defenders on the front line of natural resource conflict are being killed at an alarming rate, according to a University of Queensland study.

What can trigger violence in postcolonial Africa?
Why do civil wars and coups d'├ętat occur more frequently in some sub-Saharan African countries than others.

Another victim of violence: Trust in those who mean no harm
Exposure to violence does not change the ability to learn who is likely to do harm, but it does damage the ability to place trust in 'good people,' psychologists at Yale and University of Oxford report April 26 in the journal Nature Communications

Victims of gun violence tell their stories: Everyday violence, 'feelings of hopelessness'
Invited to share their personal stories, victims of urban gun violence describe living with violence as a 'common everyday experience' and feeling abandoned by police and other societal institutions, reports a study in the November/December Journal of Trauma Nursing, official publication of the Society of Trauma Nurses.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Teen dating violence is down, but boys still report more violence than girls
When it comes to teen dating violence, boys are more likely to report being the victim of violence -- being hit, slapped, or pushed--than girls.

Preventing murder by addressing domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence are at a high risk to be murdered -- or a victim of attempted murder -- according to a Cuyahoga County task force of criminal-justice professionals, victim advocates and researchers working to prevent domestic violence and homicides.

'Love displaces violence'
Art historian Eva-Bettina Krems on persistent motifs of peace in art from antiquity to the present day -- dove, rainbow or victory of love: artists draw on recurring motifs.

Read More: Violence News and Violence Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.