Pokot - Settlements

The Pokot have divided their countryside into named and bounded "neighborhoods" or settlements. As physical units, these neighborhoods vary in size, topography, ecological potential, and population density. As social units, they are organized around local councils, which are composed of household heads who meet periodically to discuss community affairs, resolve disputes, and coordinate productive activities such as the clearing and sowing of fields, the digging of dry-season wells, and the repairing of irrigation furrows. The centrality of these councils to the maintenance of peace and prosperity is marked linguistically: the month of Pokokwö (lit., "of council"), which corresponds to March, heralds the onset of the long rains.

The social, economic, and ritual ties that link people within and between neighborhoods derive from proximity and kinship; highland neighborhoods are more likely than lowland neighborhoods to be populated by a small range of clans. Exchange relationships between settlements in different ecological zones help reduce economic risk, which is especially important in periods of environmental adversity.

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