Grasslands are some of the most diverse ecosystems distributed all over the world. They also support quite a large number of the world population. This support is mainly through agricultural production and animal products from the pastoralism practices. They are however threatened by a range of anthropogenic activities that include overgrazing, conversion to farmlands, urbanization and invasion of alien species. This paper explores: the trends of degradation of grasslands in Kenya, how grassland degradation drives climate change versus how climate change exacerbates degradation of grasslands and how degradation of grasslands exacerbates the vulnerability of pastoral communities to extreme climate events such as droughts. Preliminary results reveal that the pastoral community is undergoing serious challenges due to climate change. The community is also under pressure due to land reduction, herd reduction and high rates of population especially due to migrating populations. Some of the challenges include loss of animals due to drought, loss of land or even change from pastoralism to other forms of livelihoods like farming, business, and formal employment especially by the national or county government, among others. This also means that proliferation of cash economy has pushed pastoralists to selling land and cattle than ever before. The results show more poverty and landlessness in the community. As a way of coping, the pastoralists have undertaken alternative livelihoods such as crop production and entrepreneurship, while some women have turned to prostitution, weaving of beads and selling of other market items. In addition, some pastoralists have employed strategies such as introduction of dairy animals, reduction of herds and reduction of household food consumption while others have migrated to towns in search of employment. The research recommends formulation of policies on climate change to protect the pastoral communities and their livelihoods.
Key words: Grasslands, Ecosystem Services, Pastoral Communities, Livelihoods, Degradation