Dec 312012
 

Pastoralism and Development in Africa

Who eats better, pastoral children in mobile herding or settled communities? (answer: mobile). Which kind of tropical lands are among those most at risk of being grabbed by outsiders for development? (rangelands). Are pastoral women benefitting at all from recent changes in pastoral livelihoods? (yes). Which region in the world has the largest concentration of camel herds in the the world? (Horn of Africa). Where are camel export opportunities the greatest? (Kenya/Ethiopa borderlands). Is the growth of ‘town camels and milk villages’ in the Somali region of Ethiopia largely the result of one man’s (desperate) innovation? (yes). Which is the more productive dryland livestock system, ranching or pastoralism? (pastoralism). Is irrigation involving pastoralists new? (no). Are we missing opportunities to make irrigated agriculture a valuable alternative or additional livelihoods to pastoralism? (perhaps).

The answers to these and other fascinating questions most of us will never have thought to even ask are found in a new book, Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins, edited by Andy Catley, of the Feinstein International Center, at Tufts University; Jeremy Lind, of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and Future Agricultures Consortium; and Ian Scoones, of the Institute of Development Studies, the STEPS Centre and the Future Agricultures Consortium. Published in 2012, it includes a chapter by scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI): Climate change in sub-Saharan Africa: What consequences for pastoralism?

Thirty-six experts in pastoral development update us on what’s so in pastoral development in the Greater Horn of Africa, highlighting innovation and entrepreneurialism, cooperation and networking and diverse approaches rarely in line with standard development prescriptions. The book highlights diverse pathways of development, going beyond the standard ‘aid’ and ‘disaster’ narratives. The book’s editors argue that ‘by making the margins the centre of our thinking, a different view of future pathways emerges’. Contributions to the book were originally presented at an international conference on The Future of Pastoralism in Africa, held at ILRI’s campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in Mar 2011.

Here are a few of the book’s ‘unstandard’ ways of looking at pastoralism.

‘Overall, mainstream pastoral development is a litany of failure. . . . Pastoral borderlands are . . . beyond the reach of the state, and so the development industry.  ·  Perhaps no other livelihood system has suffered more from biased language and narratives than pastoralism. . . . Hidden in these narratives also are political agendas that perceive mobile pastoralism as a security and political threat to the state, and, therefore, in need of controlling or eliminating.  ·  To avoid the Malthusian label, or simply out of ignorance, many social scientists have neglected the important implications of demographic trends in pastoral areas. . . . Some of the fastest growing towns in Kenya are in pastoralist districts.  ·  Local demand for education is consistently high among pastoralists, a pattern that was not the case even 10–15 years ago.  ·   It seems feasible . . . to propose a pastoral livestock and meat trade value approaching US$1 billion for the Horn in 2010.  ·  The past dominant livestock practice characterized as traditional mobile pastoralism” is increasingly rare. . . . The creation of a relatively elite commercial class within pastoral societies is occurring at a rapid pace in some areas.  ·  . . . [P]astoral lands are vulnerable to being grabbed. On a scale never before envisioned, the most valued pastoral lands are being acquired through state allocation or purchase . . . . The Tana Delta sits at the precipice of an unprecedented transformation as a range of investors seek to acquire large tracts of land to produce food and biofuels and extract minerals, often at the expense of pastoralists’ access to key resources. . . . A notable facet of changing livelihoods in the Tana Delta is the increasingly important role of women in the diversifying economy, a trend seen elsewhere in the region. . . . Until now, pastoralists have been mostly unsuccessful at challenging proposed land deals through the Kenyan courts.  ·  The shift from a breeding herd to a trading herd is perhaps the biggest shift in Maasai pastoralism.  ·  Although drought is a perennial risk to pastoralist livelihoods, an emerging concern is securing access to high value fodder and other resources to support herds, in areas where rangelands are becoming increasingly fragmented due to capture of key resource sites.  ·  During the 2009–2011 drought in the Horn of Africa, several hundred pastoralists who participated in an Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) scheme in northern Kenya received cash payments.  ·  Despite its many challenges, mobile pastoralism will continue in low-rainfall rangelands throughout the Horn for the simple reason that a more viable, alternative land use system for these areas has not been found. . . . But the nature of pastoralism in 2030 will be very different than today in 2012. . . .’

One of the book’s chapters is on Climate change in sub-Saharan Africa: What consequences for pastoralism? It was written by ILRI’s Polly Ericksen (USA), whose broad expertise includes food systems, ecosystem services and adaptations to climate change by poor agricultural and pastoral societies; and her ILRI colleagues Jan de Leeuw (Netherlands), an ecologist specializing in rangelands (who has since moved to ILRI’s sister Nairobi CGIAR centre, the World Agroforestry Centre); Mohammed Said (Kenyan), an ecologist specializing in remote sensing and community mapping; Philip Thornton (UK) and Mario Herrero (Costa Rica), agricultural systems analysts who focus on the impacts of climate and other changes on the world’s poor countries and communities; and An Notenbaert (Belgium), a land use planner and spatial analyst.

The ILRI scientists argue that if we’re going to find ways to adapt to climate change, we’re going to need to learn from pastoralists — who, after all, are demonstrably supreme managers of highly variable climates in addition to rapidly changing social, economic and political contexts — about how to make sustainable and profitable, if cyclical and opportunistic, use of increasingly scarce, temporally erratic and spatially scattered water, land, forage and other natural resources.

In important respects, pastoral people are at the forefront of responses to climate change, given their experience managing high climate variability over the centuries. Insights from pastoral systems are critical for generating wider lessons for climate adaptation responses.’

What scientists don’t know about climate change in these and other drylands, they warn, is much, much greater than what we do know. So:

The key question is how to make choices today given uncertainties of the future.’

Because ‘the more arid a pastoral environment, the less predictable the rainfall’, and because ‘vegetation growth closely follows rainfall amount, frequency and duration, . . . the primary production of rangelands is variable in time and space’, with the primary driver of this variability in livestock production in pastoral areas being the availability or scarcity of forages for feeding herds of ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, sheep, goats, camels). In severe or prolonged droughts, forage and water scarcity become a lethal combination, killing animals en masse. The authors quote former ILRI scientist David Ndedianye, a Maasai from the Kitengela rangelands in Nairobi’s backyard, and other ILRI colleagues who report in a 2011 paper on pastoral mobility that pastoral livestock losses in a 2005 drought in the Horn were between 14 and 43% in southern Kenya and as high as 80% in a drought devastating the same region in 2009. It may take four or five years for a herd to recover after a major drought.

Map of flip in temperatures above and below 30 degrees C
Maps of a flip in temperatures above 30 degrees C. Left: Threshold 4 — maximum temperature flips to greater than 30°C. Right: Threshold 5 — maximum temperature in the growing season flips to greater than 30°C. Map credit: Polly Ericksen et al., Mapping hotspots of climate change and food insecurity in the global tropics, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), 2011.

Evidence from a range of modelling efforts was used by the authors to calculate places in the global tropics where maximum temperatures are predicted to flip from less than 30 degrees C to greater than 30 degrees C by 2050. This temperature threshold is a limit for a number of staple crops, including maize beans and groundnut. Heat stress also affects grass and livestock productivity. Large areas in East African may undergo this flip, according to these models, although the authors warn that these predictions remain highly uncertain.

Thornton and Herrero in a background paper to the World Bank’s 2010 World Development Report investigated the impacts of increased drought frequency on livestock herd dynamics in Kenya’s Kajiado District. ‘Their results indicate that drought every five years keeps the herds stable as it allows sufficient time for the herds to re-establish. A once in three year drought interval by contrast drives livestock density to lower levels . . . . Hence, if there is a greater frequency of drought under climate change, this might have a lasting impact on stocking density, and the productivity of pastoral livestock systems.

The results were extrapolated to all arid and semi-arid districts in Kenya and estimated that 1.8 million animals could be lost by 2030 due to increased drought frequency, with a combined value of US$630 million due to losses in animals, milk and meat production. . . .’

In the face of changes in climate (historical and current), many pastoralists will change the species of animals they keep, or change the composition of the species in their herds. In the space of three decades (between 1997/8 and 2005–10) in Kenya, for example, the ratio of shoats (sheep and goats) to cattle kept increased significantly. Goats, as well as camels, are more drought tolerant than cattle, and also prefer browse to grasses.

Such changes in species mix and distribution will have important implications for overall livestock productivity and nutrition, as well as milk production.’

While change is and always has been fundamental to pastoralist livelihood strategies, much more—and much more rapid and diverse—change is now sweeping the Horn and many of the other drylands of the world, with local population explosions and increasing rangeland fragmentation and civil conflicts coming on top of climate and other global changes whose nature remains highly uncertain. New threats are appearing, as well as new opportunities.

While the ILRI team argues that we can and should look to pastoralist cultures, strategies and innovations for insights into how the wider world can adapt better to climate change, they also say that ‘development at the margins’ is going to be successful only where pastoralists, climate modellers and other scientists  work together:

. . . [A]daptation and response strategies in increasingly variable environments must emerge from grounded local experience and knowledge, as well as be informed by increasingly sophisticated [climate] modeling efforts.’

Support for the conference and book came from the UK Department for International Development, the United States Agency for International Development in Ethiopia, and CORDAID. Purchase the book from Routledge (USD44.96 for the paperback edition): Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins, first issued in paperback 2012, edited by Andy Catley, Jeremy Lind and Ian Scoones, Oxon, UK, and New York: Routledge and Earthscan, 328 pages. You’ll find parts of the book available on Google books here.

To read the ILRI chapter—Climate change in sub-Saharan Africa: What consequences for pastoralism?, by Polly Ericksen, Jan de Leeuw, Philip Thornton, Mohammed Said, Mario Herrero and An Notenbaert—contact ILRI communications officer Jane Gitau at j.w.gitau [at] cgiar.org.

Jan 242012
 

NP Kenya 211011_29

A massive die-off of livestock across the great pastoral drylands of the Horn of Africa in 2011 threatened the livelihoods of more than 13 million people, most of them in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and killed tens of thousands of the most famished and vulnerable people. This—what is believed to have been the worst drought in the region in six decades—combined with civil strife in Somalia has generated nearly 100,000 refugees and sent untold numbers of people into absolute—and, for many, everlasting—poverty (photo of cow carcass in northern Kenya, credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT).

With the news cycle generated by the United Nations Conference of the Parties (CoP 17) climate change conference in Durban in Dec 2011 now over and the rains having arrived in central and southern Somalia, easing both the drought and the famine there, it appears to be an appropriate time to revisit the underlying causes of the hunger and famine that swept across these lands in the second half of 2011. This was the first famine to be declared in the Horn by the United Nations in nearly 30 years. In a 34-page policy paper published recently (18 Jan 2012), Oxfam and Save the Children estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 people died between April and August 2011, more than half of them children under five.

The following opinion piece by Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), explores what it will take to prevent such a tragedy from happening again in this region.

Opinion piece by ILRI’s Jimmy Smith
The ongoing famine in southern Somalia, and the hunger elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, is a catastrophe that has been hard to look at and hard, for most of us in our wired and networked 21st century, even to absorb.

But face it we must. None of us hearing the horror stories of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing villages broken by several years of crippling drought, which turned lands and livestock alike to dust, and then, with the arrival of seasonal rains, to mud, can fail to be aware of our own part in this still-unfolding tragedy. For we together have failed to provide the livestock herders and crop farmers who inhabit these marginal lands with even the minimal resources they need to keep their environments productive.

In the opinion of some, our alternating neglect and wholesaling of East Africa’s vast and once productive dryland ecosystems has helped turn them into fragmented wastelands, dotted with refugee camps.

We may tell ourselves that there is little we can do about political strife in countries such as Somalia, but we cannot say the same thing about our perennial under-investment in small-scale rain-fed food production, an activity that remains the over-riding business of virtually every person living in the Horn today. Rich and poor nations alike have systematically failed to deliver this support, support that is usually promised in our meetings, support that is needed to build and sustain Africa’s own food production capacities.

What Africa’s rural farming and herding communities have needed, above all else, is increased agricultural research and development, with concomitant investments in rural roads, power, irrigation, clinics and schools. By failing to maintain sufficient levels of scientific as well as financial resources, we have failed to help local communities take up and adapt more sustainable and profitable herding and cropping practices.

The desiccation that devastated the Horn’s dry rangelands last year has parallels with that which occurred in the semi-arid grasslands of North America’s heartland some 70 years ago, creating a vast Dust Bowl across 19 states. The immense dust storms that blew the topsoil off the Great Plains throughout the 1930s made millions of acres of land useless and forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes for other regions. Some people died of malnourishment, hundreds of thousands of people entered years of penury and joblessness, and by 1940 a total of some 2.5 million people had been dislocated and forced to migrate, like nearly 100,000 mostly Somali people in the Horn today.

In the wake of the American disaster, and in spite of a Great Depression then crippling the country—a financial crisis even deeper than that we’re facing today—a critical mass of agricultural expertise and ideas was brought to bear on those issues underlying the crisis. That mattered because the Dust Bowl was caused primarily not by several years of drought but rather by several decades of unsustainable farming, by a ‘carelessness of plenty’, with American entrepreneurs encouraged, by the availability of big farm machinery and easy credit as well as a period of unusually wet seasons, to plough the prairie sod to excess, as well as to overgraze it, which destroyed the prairie grasses and laid the land bare.

Americans set about transforming this by investing heavily in better farming. The federal government, for example, began an aggressive campaign to teach farmers soil conservation methods, and actually paid farmers to practice these methods. It set up a Drought Relief Service that bought cattle in emergency areas at better-than-market prices and then used the cattle for food distributed to hungry people nationwide. And it advised families remaining in the prairie states to shift from crop and wheat production to livestock and hay production, a more appropriate use of degraded lands.

Finally, and critically, America’s network of land-grant universities was mobilized not only to help feed people in the emergency but also to find lasting solutions for rebuilding the productivity and resilience of the nation’s prairies. The idea was to bring the scientific knowledge of land-grant colleges to American farmers. The idea worked.

Today, international, regional and national research and development groups, working together in well-coordinated ways and tied to local conditions and priorities, have an opportunity to make a similar difference in the Horn, helping its homeless and hungry people to reclaim their lands and livelihoods. It is, therefore, gratifying to see the donor community and governments mobilizing financial and technical resources to respond to the lessons just learnt in the Horn.

We’ve seen that unsustainable prairie cropping in North America and unsupported livestock-based agricultural production systems in the Horn, when combined with lengthy and severe drought cycles, are toxic mixes. But if America’s earlier tragedy teaches us anything, it’s that we can turn defeat into new destiny by applying the best of science—smart, innovative and conservation-minded agricultural research—and promoting those agricultural practices that will make the biggest and most enduring difference to poor people and their environments.

Americans said ‘never again’ about the Dust Bowl—and they made good on their promise. We can, and should, say the same thing about hunger and starvation in the Horn of Africa.

Notes
(1) The Guardian‘s Global Development Blog started the new year with a chat discussion on the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, where famine was officially declared on 20 Jul 2011.

As the Guardian‘s Jaz Cummins reports, on 13 Dec 2011, the UN made an appeal for USD1.5 billion to support projects in Somalia in 2012—a figure 50% higher than in 2011.

The Guardian this January recommends the following background reading it published last year:
Madeleine Bunting blogs on the role conflict and natural disasters have played in Somalia, 11 Sep 2011
Conflict with Kenya, 18 Nov 2011
The World Bank’s Vinod Thomas on how the Horn of Africa can be better prepared for recurrent drought, 11 Aug 2011
Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organisation, on the key ingredients to tackle food crisis, 21 Nov 2011
Liz Ford on the long-term strategy Africa’s latest food crisis needs, 4 Jul 2011

(2) Is A Food Crisis Brewing in the Sahel?
A meeting to be held on 25 Jan 2012 in Washington, DC, will assess whether a similar food crisis is brewing in the Sahel—and the best ways of ensuring that resources to deal with it are not squandered in ‘band-aid treatments’ but rather used to build resiliency in the region. The meeting is being organized by The Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Africa Program, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET).

While African nations and the donor community struggle to mitigate famine in the Horn of Africa, fears are growing that drought in the Sahel will trigger a similar food crisis in West Africa by the spring of 2012. However, experts have cautioned against misdiagnosing the food situation in the Sahel, for fear that excessive band-aid treatments of emergency food assistance will squander energy and scarce resources that would be better utilized in treating pockets of severe food insecurity and building resiliency in the region. With input from US and African experts on the Sahel, this event will explore the true nature of the emerging crisis in the Sahel and seek to identify effective responses, including regional trade and resilience-building through agricultural development.

(3) PAEPARD (Platform for Africa-European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development) Seminar: Preventing a New Famine in the Horn of Africa: The role of the EU in building resilience
Ann Waters-Bayer, a pastoral expert and senior advisor at ETC EcoCulture, was a panel member at a seminar put on for European Development Days 2011, 15–16 Dec 2011, in Warsaw. The panelists, comprising practitioners and policymakers, discussed how to prevent another crisis of this scale and the role that the EU can play in reaching long-lasting sustainable solutions.

Speaking on the panel, Waters-Bayer reminded her audience that pastoral modes of production are often the most appropriate uses of these and other of the world’s great drylands.

‘We’re ten years late in trying to support development which is appropriate to the Horn of Africa and other dryland ares. I think a lot of people in Europe don’t realize what are the most appropriate food production systems in the very dry and variable areas. Often the kinds of development support provided in these drylands are those more appropriate to Europe or better-watered areas.

‘I found it striking that in the film we’ve seen on how to prevent famine from happening again in the Horn of Africa, pastoralism was not mentioned. Pastoralism is the production system practiced in the largest part of the Horn of Africa. Pastoralism is the production system most appropriate for this type of environment. Pastoralism takes advantage of what crop farmers would regard as a constraint, a challenge, a problem—this variation in availability of vegetation, caused by the variability of rain, of water. Pastoralists take advantage of this variability by moving with their animal herds.

One of the big problems in this dryland region has been that a lot of the development and a lot of the policies for this region, especially policies dealing with use of communal resources and acquisition of so-called ‘unused land’, are policies confining pastoralists and making it impossible for this very appropriate production system to continue to operate.

‘Land grabbing has really become a big issue in the Horn of Africa and other parts of Africa. Land grabbing, or land acquisition, supposedly for more productive uses of the land, is going on without people realizing what production systems are actually using that land and how productive those systems are.

If there had been more research done on alternative ways of using land and real feasibility studies conducted on what can actually be done with this land, they would realize that the existing production systems, especially the very very flexible and resilient pastoralist system, is often the best way to use these very dry areas.’

Sep 132011
 

Ethiopische nomadevrouw met haar dochter

Ethiopian pastoralists of Somali origin have been trying to sustain their livestock livelihoods after some of their land was used to build a camp for Somali refugees at Dolo Ado, Ethiopia (photo on Flickr by Petterik Wiggers/Hollandse Hoogte—Photostream Giro 555 SHO).

The Africa Union’s Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) recently convened a two-day consultation of experts working to address the challenges to development of the arid and semi-arid lands of the Horn of Africa. This expert consultation on ‘Interventions for sustainable livestock systems in the Horn of Africa,’ was held 2–3 Sep 2011 at the International Livestock Research Institute’s headquarters, in Nairobi, Kenya. The AU meeting was preceded by a news briefing and learning event convened by the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers. CGIAR CEO Lloyd Le Page participated in both the Consortium and AU drought-related meetings.

Both meetings helped to identify opportunities for sustaining food production in this sub-region, which continues to suffer from the catastrophic impacts of a severe drought, and helped to develop an initial framework for making better use of those agricultural opportunities in future.

The more than 40 experts gathered at the AU meeting developed a joint statement to better inform long-term development of this region’s drylands. This statement, which follows in full, will be used at upcoming high-level meetings on topics related to food security.

Expert Consultation to inform long-term development of arid and semi-arid lands in the Greater Horn of Africa

2–3 September 2011

A Joint Statement

Preamble
The current food security crisis in the Greater Horn of Africa is a stark reminder that insufficient attention has been given to addressing the root causes of vulnerability in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of this region. It is also apparent that it is not drought but rather vulnerability during drought in the ASALs that has thrown the region into repeated food crises. Yet in contrast to this vulnerability is the fact that the ASALs produce most of the livestock traded in the region, contributing up to 50% of agricultural GDP to the national economies, in addition to playing wider economic roles. African leaders at the country, regional and continental levels, along with global leaders and the development community, are now confronted with, and attempting to address, the questions: why do we continue to regard what is so clearly an asset as a liability; and what would an appropriate long-term development program look like that could sustainably harness the productive potential of the ASALs and reduce repeated crises?

In the next several months, numerous technical and political consultations are planned to discuss short, medium and long-term development in the ASALs. Against this backdrop, and the urgency of tackling this challenge head on, the African Union (AU) through its Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) convened an expert consultation 2–3 September 2011 in Nairobi, which was hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a center of the CGIAR Consortium.

The consultation brought together over 50 development practitioners, researchers, and policy makers (from non-governmental organizations, government, regional organizations, international research institutes, and development agencies) from the Greater Horn of Africa and globally that are or have been engaged in addressing the challenges to the development of the ASALs.

This statement is a summary of key trends identified and recommendations of the experts. It also provides a summary of outcomes, illustrative interventions and issues for consideration.

Context and Trends

Context

  • ASALs account for 70% of the land area of the countries in the Greater Horn of Africa.
  • ASALs are a discrete geographic area in the Greater Horn of Africa where the population is vulnerable.
  • The shared agro-ecosystem, including natural resources such as water and pastures and common production systems, offers an opportunity for cooperation among countries to identify and implement solutions.
  • Pastoral and agro-pastoral livestock production systems are the primary economic enterprise and main economic driver in the ASALs.
  • There are now a large number of activities being implemented at country and local levels to help mitigate the impacts of drought and to build household and community resilience in an environment of increasingly unpredictable rainfall.
  • Social, technical and economic services are not widely available, especially to the mobile pastoral populations, and the longer-term development needs of the ASALs are generally neglected.
  • Insecurity in the region exacerbates vulnerability and hinders effective response and other interventions.

Important trends

  • The region is experiencing an increased number of shocks, especially more frequent droughts and floods, but also man-made shocks.
  • Although the long-term impacts of climate change cannot yet be accurately predicted, there appears to be increased variability of rainfall; and although many experts believe the region will become progressively hotter and drier, some parts may become wetter and more flood-prone.
  • There are growing opportunities for international/regional trade in livestock products due, in large part, to the increased demand for these products in Africa and the Middle East fuelled by growing populations, urbanization and rising incomes.
  • While access to services remains generally poor in the ASALs, significant progress has been made recently through greater access to, and coverage by, mobile phones.
  • Country strategies and investment plans are in place, but ASAL programming, although it is included, is not prioritized, coordinated or well developed.
  • Ongoing processes of land fragmentation, insecure tenure and use rights, and externally driven land appropriation processes also undermine pastoral productivity.
  • Improved research coordination and frameworks are already in place[1] but need to be leveraged to support the ASALs.
  • Policy windows of opportunity are emerging nationally and regionally, and the political voice of pastoralists is increasing.

Strategic Actions and Recommendations
The immediate challenges being faced in the Greater Horn of Africa serve as a call to action that is being heard and responded to by many countries, agencies, and interest groups. The immediate attention to saving lives and protecting livelihoods is indeed critical. However, much of this response, especially the efforts focused on long-term development, could make better use of existing systems, evidence and best practices to inform investment. They are too often partial solutions because no single country or agency has the ability to mobilize the resources or political will to operate at the scale needed to systemically tackle the issues. Recognizing the need for coordinated action, two recommendations are summarized below to advance a more effective mobilization of domestic resources and foreign development assistance in support of a long-term development effort.

1. The African Union should establish a task force to assist countries and regional economic communities (RECs) to design and mobilize support for long-term development of the ASALs in the Greater Horn of Africa. The fundamental task is to translate national strategies and investment plans for agriculture and food security that now exist into concrete activities and services. This will require:

  • Analysis to help inform and clarify the expected outcomes and targets from the investment in ASALs on the national agriculture and food security goals and targets, articulated through their CAADP Plans.
  • An inventory and review of ongoing efforts in the ASALs, identify best practices and modalities or instruments to consolidate ongoing efforts, align them with long term goals and targets, and scale up the best practices.
  • Strategic coordination of research and technical support to assist national coalitions of government, development partners, NGOs and the private sector to prioritize various interventions for the ASALs.
  • Development of partnerships to support and implement high-priority policy recommendations, and research, development and economic growth projects and activities.
  • The review of options for establishing an implementation framework at the national and regional levels that provides effective coordination, and that clarifies the roles and responsibilities of various parties in the implementation of a coordinated investment strategy for ASALs.
  • The task force is envisaged as a temporary measure with a lifespan of around 6 months: an important task during this period will be to identify a more sustainable platform to provide ongoing effective coordination to support long-term development of the ASALs of the Greater Horn of Africa.

2. The international community and bilateral development agencies should mobilize a consortium of technical organizations, e.g. CGIAR, FAO, WFP and NGO partners (e.g. REGLAP) to work with and support the AU task force in close consultation with the concerned countries to identify best practice, develop programs, provide technical services and conduct relevant research to support long term development of the ASALs.

Illustrative Outcomes and Interventions for Long-Term Development of ASALs
The expert consultation identified key challenges that a long-term development effort in the ASALs will face, considered major outcomes that will need to be pursued, and began to examine best practices that have been developed and are being applied, typically on a small-scale basis, that could be helpful in the long-term development of the ASALs. The expert consultation considered possible outcomes and actions for long-term agenda from the lens of: a) increasing the contribution of the ASALs to agricultural growth and national development goals and targets; and b) diversifying livelihoods and improving resilience amongst vulnerable households in ASAL areas of the Greater Horn of Africa.

Six major outcome areas and related illustrative interventions are considered as key in advancing the long-term development of the ASALs. They include the following.

Make national and regional pastoral policy frameworks operational

  • Define and elaborate ASAL programmes within the umbrella of the CAADP investment plans that are consistent with the AU policy framework for pastoralism and other regional initiatives, such as the IGAD regional policy framework on animal health in the context of trade and vulnerability
  • Promote regionally harmonized policy on livestock trade and the movement of livestock and people
  • Capacity strengthening of RECs, national and local agencies coordinating and implementing ASAL development where and as appropriate and requested
  • Effective monitoring and evaluation of policy implementation

Sustainable ecosystem management

  • Integrate local knowledge through participatory action research so as to ensure that strategies fit with local perspectives and priorities
  • CGIAR mentoring of national agricultural research services in applied research in ecosystem dynamics
  • Develop payment systems for environmental services that benefit pastoralists
  • Facilitate carbon sequestration and methane emission reduction
  • Enhance the use of natural resource (e.g. improved land-use planning; and water and soil management efforts.)

Secure regional trade

  • Inter-regional financial systems
  • Product standardization linked to SPS measures
  • Enhanced negotiation capacity
  • Reduced non-tariff trade barriers
  • Niche market development
  • Improved road, market, water and communication infrastructure

Institutionalized disaster-risk management and response

  • Assess need for early-warning systems for different stakeholders
  • Develop demand-driven knowledge products
  • Improve dissemination of early-warning information using alternative media
  • Invest in data management systems
  • Establish functional mechanisms for early response
  • Fund early response, especially at local levels, within a conducive policy and institutional setting
  • Provide safety nets
  • Provide index-based livestock insurance
  • Enhance traditional coping strategies

Empowered pastoralist communities

  • Strengthened producer associations
  • Conflict resolution – grazing, land access, environment
  • Strengthened traditional NRM strategies
  • Increased awareness of improved coping measures, such as timely destocking
  • Increased community participation in policy decisions and resource allocations
  • Capacity development for community driven development in government and at community level
  • Vocational training in technical and business skills
  • Social fund for cost-shared community-driven investments

Improved and alternative incomes

  • Effective community-based animal health services
  • Effective veterinary epidemiology program
  • Competitive private input supply
  • Secure access to land and water
  • Development of irrigation
  • Dryland products such as resins and gum arabica
  • Savings-driven credit schemes
  • Information-technology-based market information
  • Vocational training in technical and business skills
  • Basic numeracy and literacy
  • Energy and environmental services

Next Steps for Catalyzing Action
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, it is proposed that the African Union convenes a broadly based task force immediately, drawing on the rich expertise available within the region, continent and globally.

At the same time this joint statement should be distributed to other stakeholders, including the donor community, engaged in technical and political consultations over the next few weeks and months, with a view to mobilizing a coordinated effort to shape and implement a long-term development program to tackle the underlying causes of vulnerability in the ASALs of the Greater Horn of Africa.


[1] Newly approved CGIAR Research Programs, in partnership with national research institutes and other stakeholders, have the capacity to identify information and knowledge gaps, and provide research and innovation fundamental to the ASALs finding lasting and viable solutions, and to provide improved food security, reduced poverty, enhance nutrition and health, and more sustainable use of natural resources for the Greater Horn of Africa region.

Read more about these meetings on the AU-IBAR website and on the ILRI News Blog:

‘Africa’s drylands are productive, and potentially very productive’–ILRI’s Bruce Scott

CGIAR media briefing on the food crisis in the Horn of Africa: A strengthened and joined-up approach is needed

CGIAR briefing on the food crisis in the Horn of Africa: 1 September at ILRI Nairobi

Investments in pastoralism offer best hope for combating droughts in East Africa’s drylands–Study


Sep 052011
 

AU-IBAR livestock consultation to reduce hunger in the Horn

ILRI’s Bruce Scott delivers a talk at an expert consultation on livestock systems in the Horn of Africa (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Bruce Scott, acting director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), delivered the following talk at the opening of an expert consultation convened by the Africa Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), on ‘Interventions for sustainable livestock systems in the Horn of Africa’, held at ILRI’s campus in Nairobi, Kenya, on 2 September 2011.

‘I thank you all for accepting the invitation from the Africa Union to attend this expert consultation.

‘I thank the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and AU-IBAR for convening this meeting, which ILRI is pleased to host.

‘I especially appreciate each of you agreeing to attend this meeting at this time of crisis, where there are so many activities competing for your precious time. We are confident that your presence will help us identify steps towards a more holistic and practical approach for addressing livestock issues in the Horn.

‘I am delighted to welcome His Excellency Erasmus Mwancha, deputy chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, who has kindly agreed to officially open this consultation.

‘I also take pleasure in acknowledging the presence of the chief executive officer of the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, Lloyd Le Page. Yesterday (Thursday, 1 September), Lloyd convened a CGIAR media briefing and learning event also here at ILRI, and also on the crisis in the Horn, looking at the most promising agricultural research inputs for addressing these issues in future.

‘The consensus of the Consortium’s learning event was that we need greater investment in agricultural development, greater support for agricultural research, and greater cooperation between research, government, private sector and development actors. These can spread the adoption of innovations by farmers and herders, helping millions of food producers in the Horn of Africa, who are now facing the severest drought in this region in the last six decades.

‘The CGIAR and partner experts gathered yesterday called for a ‘matching of investments in infrastructure development with investments in knowledge’ to get more research into use.

‘We are all here at today’s Africa Union meeting because of our commitment to finding sustainable livestock-based solutions for this region’s food production problems.

‘I’d like to take a minute to set some context for this consultation.

‘Rangelands cover about one-half of the landmass in Africa. In Kenya, about 80 per cent of the landmass comprises arid and semi-arid lands. These drylands can be subdivided into the wetter drylands and the drier drylands. Most of the Horn now afflicted by drought is made up of the drier drylands. I caution us to keep in mind that food production options appropriate for the wetter drylands often are inappropriate for the drier drylands.

‘Droughts have frequented the Horn of Africa for centuries. But in recent decades they have become more frequent and the rainfall has become more variable from year to year. Both of these changes are increasing the vulnerability of the communities that live in these lands.

‘As you know, livestock are a central source of livelihoods in this region and the major way that pastoralists generate income and build their ‘asset base’. A remarkable 70 per cent of all the beef produced in Kenya comes from the arid and semi-arid regions of the country.

‘The Horn of Africa experiences bimodal rainfall, which occurs in only a few regions on earth. That means that the little rain that does fall in these drylands does so in two rather than one growing season, which of course reduces the low levels of annual rainfall available for either of the two annual growing seasons. While this is bad news for cropping, it serves animal production particularly well, with pastures renewed twice a year. Furthermore, the unpredictability of rainfall here is often so great as to allow only one crop every third, fourth or fifth season, which makes crop production unviable without irrigation of some sort.

‘Africa’s dry rangelands are, in fact, productive, and potentially very productive. They are good filtres of water, for example, with some parts of the continent’s drylands, such as in West Africa, having sizable aquifers below their surface (these aquifers, unfortunately, are much smaller in the Horn). The drylands are home to much of the continent’s wildlife diversity. The drylands sequester carbon, and carbon credits might one day provide the local populations with new income streams. And livestock enterprises are not only a major source of income for the peoples of the Horn, they also provide up to 50 per cent of the agricultural gross domestic product of these countries.

‘In spite of all this, the Horn’s drylands have been badly neglected. Governments have neither significantly invested in nor developed these drylands, whose people (pastoral livestock herders) have been marginalized for decades. Donor investments in this region have fallen drastically in the recent past and even ILRI has reduced its attention to these drylands since the late 1990s.

‘Meanwhile, over the last 30 years, more and more people and more and more animals have inhabited these fragile ecosystems, fragmenting the rangelands and reducing the mobility of the herders and their stock in seasonal search of new pasture. Pastoral mobility has also been restricted by governance issues, insecurity, and conflicts over natural resources. And as we well know, Somalia has been a non-state since 1990 and many of the region’s commercial livestock markets are functioning badly or not at all.

‘It is clear to us that the traditional way of managing livestock will need to change to adapt to changes in this region and that we’ll need to identify ways to help the Horn’s pastoralists diversify their incomes and livelihoods.

‘ILRI is investigating promising options for this region’s livestock herders, including better land-use policies, well-functioning livestock markets, pastoral livestock insurance and schemes to pay pastoral herders for their environmental services, such as sequestering carbon, filtering water and conserving wildlife.

‘It’s essential that this expert consultation identifies opportunities to ensure a sustainable future for this sub-region, which is changing rapidly under both external and internal pressures. This meeting should provide a framework for collecting some of our best professional advice on new opportunities for viable livestock enterprises for the future.’

Aug 022011
 

Managing mobility in African rangelands

Above and below: Illustrations from a chapter on ‘Managing Mobility in African Rangelands,’ in a book, Resources, Rights and Cooperation: A Sourcebook on Property Rights and Collective Action for Sustainable Development, published in 2010 by the International Food Policy Research Institute for the CGIAR Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi); ILRI scientist Nancy Johnson was one of four members of the production team for this book (illustration credit: IFPRI).

In a commentary in Today Online, the American economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, argues for policies that support rather than hamper the movements of livestock herders in the drought- and hunger-stricken Horn of Africa.

‘The rains have failed for two years running in the dry regions of East Africa. These are places where water is so scarce year after year that crop production is marginal at best. Millions of households, with tens of millions of nomadic or semi-nomadic people, tend camels, sheep, goats and other livestock, which they move large distances to reach rain-fed pasturelands. . . . The location of life-supporting pasturelands is determined by the unstable and largely unpredictable rains, rather than by political boundaries. Yet we live in an era when political boundaries, not the lives of nomadic pastoralists, are sacrosanct. These boundaries, together with growing populations of sedentary farmers, have hemmed in pastoralist communities. . . .’

Nancy Johnson, a scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Maryam Niamir-Fuller and other authors explore the merits of pastoral mobility in a chapter of a book, Resources, Rights and Cooperation, which is a sourcebook on property rights and collective action for sustainable development. The source for their material is a CAPRi research brief published in 2005 by Maryam Niamir-Fuller (see below).

Managing mobility in African rangelands

As this chapter reports:

‘In arid and semi-arid lands in Africa, pastoralists manage uncertainty and risk and access a range of markets through livestock mobility. Mobility enables opportunistic use of resources and helps minimize the effects of droughts. . . .

‘Undergrazing of remote pastures or in protected areas can lead to the invasion of unpalatable plants, lower vegetation cover, and lower diversity of plants, and can sometimes be a more serious problem than overgrazing. . . .

‘The scale and magnitude of persistent environmental decline in dryland Africa—and how livestock grazing has affected such changes—appear to have been overestimated. . . .

‘Mobile pastoral systems also appear to be more economically efficient than their sedentary counterparts or commercial ranching. . . .

Government policies have upset the economic balance between crops and livestock by favoring crops and agricultural encroachment onto rangelands. Governments have discouraged investments in the range and livestock sector and claimed “vacant” pastoral land for national parks and government-owned farms.

‘Projects in Africa have long sought to develop livestock productivity rather than enhance livelihoods. Drawing on the classical ranching model from the United States, interventions encouraged sedentarization, destocking, and water development. However, they did not increase livestock productivity, and some were very destructive. . . .

In the 1990s . . . mobility was still seen as a problem to be eliminated, not a trump card to be strengthened.

‘Livestock needs to be seen as an integral part of conservation and development in Africa, since transhumance may even be a necessary precondition to sustainable development in arid lands.

Recommendations

• Mobile pastoralism is not a “backward” means of livelihood—laws, policies and procedures should be considered backward, since they do not recognize the ecological and economic value of mobile pastoralism.

• A clearer understanding of common property regimes and a holistic analytical framework for pastoral development activities are also required . . . .

• The fundamental design principles related to managing institutions for mobility are nested property rights, fluid boundaries, inclusivity, flexibility, reciprocity, negotiation, and priority of use. . . .

• Resource holders need to retain authority to grant temporary use rights to secondary and tertiary users. . . .

• There has been strong momentum toward “co-management,” or systems of common property regimes that combine government decentralization with community participation. Though the approach is far better suited than any other to mobile pastoralism, it needs to deal with large-scale management of contiguous land.

• Management of livestock mobility also requires multiple institutions working at multiple spatial scales, authorities, and functions. To modify or create the institutional structure for a legitimate, locally controllable transhumance, the function—not just the structure—of new institutions must be addressed.’

Read the CAPRi policy brief on which this chapter is based: Niamir-Fuller, M. 2005. Managing Mobility in African Rangelands. In: Mwangi, E. (ed). Collective Action and Property Rights for Sustainable Rangeland Management. CAPRi Research Brief, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C.

Read the whole CAPRi sourcebook: Resources, Rights and Cooperation: A Sourcebook on Property Rights and Collective Action for Sustainable Development, International Food Policy Research Institute for the CGIAR Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi), 2010.

Read the whole news commentary by Jeffrey Sachs in Today Online: Famine and hope in the Horn of Africa, 2 Aug 2011.

Jul 262011
 

denan 1

One of thousands of dead cattle in the southern Somali Region of Ethiopia five years ago, in an earlier drought in the same region of the Horn of Africa (photo on Flickr by Andrew Heavens).

Scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, are saying that the current drought cycle in East Africa’s Horn, which has already led to famine in southern Somalia, cannot be ascribed to climate change, although there is evidence that La Niña is a probable cause.

Interviews by IRIN of ILRI scientists Phil Thornton, a systems analyst specializing in climate change in developing countries, and Jan de Leeuw, an environmental scientist leading ILRI’s rangelands research, were published in the Guardian‘s Development Network Blog.

‘. . . Philip Thornton, a senior scientist who works part-time with the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the University of Edinburgh-based Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, has done some pioneering work on projections of climate-change impact in eastern and southern Africa.

‘He told IRIN via email that projections of the climate change impact in east Africa were “a problem” as the authoritative inter-governmental panel on climate change’s (the IPCC) fourth assessment report “indicated that there was good consensus among the climate models that rainfall was likely to increase during the current century.

‘”But work by other climate scientists since then suggests that . . . certain Indian Ocean effects in east Africa may not actually occur.

‘”Some people think that east Africa is drying, and has dried over recent years; currently there is no hard, general evidence of this, and it is very difficult as yet to see where the statistical trends of rainfall in the region are heading, but these will of course become apparent in time.”

‘The IPCC’s fifth assessment report will be released in 2014.

‘Jan de Leeuw is the operating project leader in the vulnerability and sustainability in pastoral and agro-pastoral systems within ILRI’s people, livestock and environment theme. He points out that this La Niña event is one of the strongest since the 1970s. But he says La Niña, along with El Niño, appear in cycles that “we don’t understand”.

‘What we do know is that La Niña started to develop in August 2010. It cools surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, while allowing warmer water to build in the eastern Pacific. “The pool of warm water in the east intensifies rains in Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Domino-style, this pattern also increases the intensity of westerly winds over the Indian Ocean, pulling moisture away from east Africa toward Indonesia and Australia. The result? Drought over most of east Africa and floods and lush vegetation in Australia and other parts of Southeast Asia,” according to the US government’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

‘De Leeuw writes: “La Niña events were common from 1950 till 1976. Since then we had two decades [until about 1996] with fewer events of lesser depth. This has changed since then and over the last 15 years or so we have had more frequent La Niña events.”

‘Events as deep as the current La Niña occur once in 20 or 30 years, writes De Leeuw. “We are in a period now of more frequent La Niña events, but such a situation was there from 1950 till 1976 also.”

‘Thornton has the last word when he says research attention must focus on developing effective early warning systems and ways to help people affected by these events, who have no use for “academic” consideration of the linkages with climate change to cope better with the current levels of weather variability, “whatever happens in the future”.’

Read the whole article by IRIN on the Guardian‘s Development Network Blog: La Niña blamed for east African drought: Environmentalists call for the development of early warning systems to help countries prepare for adverse weather, 14 Jul 2011.

Jun 282011
 

At OIE, ILRI's Jeff Mariner and others responsible for the eradication of rinderpest

At the 79th General Session of the United Nations World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), in Paris in May 2011, ILRI’s Jeff Mariner (second from right) stands among a group of distinguished people heading work responsible for the eradication of rinderpest, a status officially declared at this meeting (image credit: OIE).

Several world bodies are celebrating what is being described as ‘the greatest achievement in veterinary medicine’: the eradication of only the second disease from the face of the earth.

The disease is rinderpest, which means ‘cattle plague’ in German. It kills animals by a virus—and people by starving them through massive losses of their livestock.

‘In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,’ reports the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ‘the disease devastated parts of Africa, triggering extensive famines. . . . After decades of efforts to stamp out a disease that kept crossing national borders, countries and institutions agreed they needed to coordinate their efforts under a single, cohesive programme. In 1994, the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP) was established at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in close association with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

‘Excellent science, a massive vaccination effort, close international coordination and the commitment of people at all levels have helped make rinderpest eradication possible.

‘On June 28, 2011, FAO’s governing Conference will adopt a resolution officially declaring that rinderpest has been eradicated from animals worldwide. The successful fight against rinderpest underscores what can be achieved when communities, countries and institutions work together.’

Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty

Australian Peter Doherty, 1996 winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine who served on the board of trustees of the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD), a predecessor of  ILRI (photo credit: published on the Advance website).

Australian Peter Doherty, an immunologist who is the only veterinarian to win the Nobel Prize, for Physiology or Medicine, in 1996, and who served as chair of the board of trustees research program of the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD), a predecessor of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is attending the FAO ceremonies this week. In an interview with FAO, he said:

Vaccine research is currently a very dynamic area of investigation and with sufficient investment and the enthusiastic participation of industry partners at the “downstream” end, we can achieve even better vaccines against many veterinary and human diseases.

The Washington Post in May reported that ‘the World Organization for Animal Health, at its annual meeting in Paris on Wednesday, accepted documentation from the last 14 countries that they were now free of rinderpest. The organization, which goes by its French acronym, OIE, was started in 1924 in response to a rinderpest importation in Europe.

‘The most recent recorded outbreak occurred in Kenya in 2001. Much of the past decade has been spent looking for new cases, in domesticated animals and in the wild, wandering herds of ungulates, or hoofed animals, in East Africa. The last place of especially intense surveillance was Somalia, where the final outbreak of smallpox occurred in 1977.

‘“There are a huge number of unsung heroes in lots of countries that made this possible,” said Michael Baron, a rinderpest virologist at the Institute for Animal Health in Surrey, England. “In most places, they were ordinary veterinary workers who were doing the vaccination, the surveillance, the teaching.”

‘Three things made rinderpest eradicable. Animals that survived infection became immune for life. A vaccine developed in the 1960s by Walter Plowright, an English scientist who died last year at 86, provided equally good immunity. And even though the virus could infect wild animals, it did not have a reservoir of host animals capable of carrying it for prolonged periods without becoming ill.

‘In 1994, the FAO launched an eradication program that was largely financed by European countries, although the United States, which never had rinderpest, also contributed money. The effort consisted of massive vaccination campaigns, which were made more practicable when two American researchers made a version of the Plowright vaccine that required no refrigeration. . . .’

One of those researchers was Jeffrey Mariner, now working at ILRI, in Nairobi, Kenya. Mariner also helped in surveillance work ‘with a technique called “participatory epidemiology” in which outside surveyors meet with herdsmen and ask open-ended questions about the health of their animals and when they last noticed certain symptoms.

‘“It was local knowledge that really helped us trace back the last places where transmission occurred—sitting down underneath a tree in the shade, listening to storytelling,” said Lubroth, of the FAO. . . .’

Read the whole article in the Washington Post, Rinderpest, or ‘cattle plague,’ becomes only second disease to be eradicated, 27 May 2011.

Read FAO’s interview of Peter Doherty: Healthier animals, healthier people, June 2011.

Apr 272011
 

Ethiopia, Addis Ababa

A boy tends cattle in Ethiopia. A new initiative supported by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research program of the CGIAR will boost smallholder farmers’ resilience to drought in the Horn of Africa. (Photo credit: ILRI/Gerard)

A new initiative to help pastoralists and smallholder farmers cope with the twin pressures of drought and climate change was launched recently at the Nairobi, Kenya, headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The initiative, ‘Climate change adaptation and mitigation for communities in dryland regions,’ is conducted by a group of development partners that include the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Vétérinaires San Frontières, Solidarites and Action Aid among others. The initiative will work towards securing the agro-pastoral livelihoods of poor livestock keepers in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

The meeting, held on 22 March 2011, brought together donor representatives, regional research and development partners, national research and extension representatives and non-governmental agencies engaged in promoting dryland agriculture. The meeting aimed to create awareness of the challenges facing the drylands and to share information about existing technological and institutional innovations that can address some of their most pressing challenges.

The drylands and other marginal environments of eastern Africa have high population growth and climate variability and few livelihood options other than livestock keeping. Such marginal lands around the world, however, produce about 20% of the world’s food, have rich cultural and social diversity and are inhabited by people whose traditional ways of coping with climate change can be harnessed for improved small-scale agriculture and livelihoods.

The new regional drylands initiative will help increase crop and livestock productivity in the three countries as well as add value to supply chain processes and help build supportive institutional frameworks for enhancing food production and marketing.

The initiative hopes to boost food security and livelihoods by increasing the resilience of vulnerable livestock keepers and is expected to reach about 1.3 million people at a cost of USD15 million in its first phase, which starts this year and will go on until 2013.

‘As a key partner in the project,’ said James Kinyangi, a regional program leader of CCAFS, who is based at ILRI, ‘CCAFS will apply lessons from successful past CGIAR research to intensify agricultural production in marginal environments. This should help eastern Africa’s dryland communities to develop greater resilience to climate change.’

The drylands initiative follows a workshop on dryland farming practices held in 2008 to map strategies for improving farming in eastern Africa’s drylands and identify high-priority crops for adaptation.

For more information about the regional drylands initiative visit: http://typo3.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/drought/docs/Dryland%20Flyer_final.pdf

To find out more about CCAFS visit: http://www.ccafs.cgiar.org/

Mar 232011
 

On the last day (23 March 2011) of a ‘Future of Pastoralism in Africa’ Conference, organized by the Future Agricultures Consortium and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University and held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), pastoralist experts took the conference participants through timelines that they had drawn up for selected pastoralist areas.

These hand-drawn timelines—with their famous place names and (in)famous droughts, wars and other major events variously, simply and affectingly sketched lightly on flipchart papers pasted to the walls of the conference hall—must have evoked memories, some of them heart-breaking, all of them heartfelt, in all but the youngest academic in the room. This was Africa’s pastoralist past—laid out in its crudest essentials on linear temporal bars punctuated by shorthand notes denoting big, often cataclysmic, events. This was an exercise meant to make room for rethinking the future of African pastoralism.

Examples of the kinds of statements made about the timelines (their baldness often matching the events they described) by the pastoralist ‘gurus’ who stood, one by one, to highlight a handful of major events depicted in each, follow.

Pastoralist Timelines

Niger Delta
‘A Tuareg rebellion arising in colonial times continues to this day. . . . Conflicts are a worse threat than climate change.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Afar/Middle Awash
‘Critical dry-season grazing lands have been completely taken up by state farms. . . . More than 90,000 hectares of grazing land in Afar has been converted to sugar cane. . . . A 1973/4 drought is called the “gun drought” because the massive stock deaths led to massive sales of guns and other household assets to buy food. . . . Since a 1970s drought, people have begun keeping more goats than camels and cattle, and sugar cane is now taking over.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Southern Somalia/Northeastern Kenya
‘The 1891 rinderpest calamity started the rural-to-urban migration. . . . Shifta conflicts in the 1960s began to isolate and stigmatize the area. . . . An outbreak of Rift Valley fever in the 1990s crushed the livestock trade. . . . The economic vibrancy in this stateless region outstrips its politics. . . . There is an on-going and robust cross-border boom in livestock and other trade. . . . Garissa is the fastest-growing town in Kenya; livestock remain critically important there. . . . The whole area is a kind of duty-free zone for electronics and other goods. . . . Piracy is a kind of livelihood diversification into the sea.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Northern Kenya
‘Boundaries were first fixed and herding ranges squeezed in the colonial era. . . . In the post-colonial era, 1960–70, shifta started as legitimate rebels before becoming, and being seen as, bandits. . . . Starting in the 1990s, non-governmental organizations set up permanent offices, around which towns began to grow up. . . . A paved road built from Isiolo to Moyale will drive some pastoralists further away. . . . Land insecurity remains the biggest problem. . . . Roads and education bring with them new opportunities. . . . There is already much anticipation (and business deals being made) about the pipeline and railroad being planned from Lamu through Isiolo to Sudan. . . . Those who have resources have taken over the cattle economy of the area.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Darfur/Sudan
‘In some areas and periods, there are no droughts because there are no rains at all. . . . Long-term marginalization and militarization have both been rapidly accelerating in recent years. . . . The future looks bleak. . . . The only good news is that there is widespread acknowledgement that international peace processes have failed.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Southern Kenya/Maasai
‘Considerable inter-Maasai conflicts occurred from 1850 to 1900. . . . Early on, the Maasai ceded much of the Rift Valley to the colonialists. . . . In the 1940s, the colonialists created sectional divisions that remain problematical today. . . . The formation of group ranches led to catastrophic land losses. . . . Droughts of 1984, 1997/8, 2000, 2005, 2008/9; the last affected all areas, with no one escaping. . . . Major non-drought events include the 1945 establishment of national parks and the 1980s establishment of group ranches. . . . Since the 1990s, Christianity has swept across Maasailand, bringing with it great changes.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Northern Tanzania/Maasailand
‘Kenya and Tanzania took very different paths regarding land and ethnicity. . . . Security of land and resources will be critical over next five years.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Uganda/Karamajong
‘From colonial times to today, the Karamajong herders are not allowed to move. . . . A challenging national policy environment in Uganda makes promoting pastoralist livelihoods in Karamoja difficult.’

Southern Ethiopia/Borana
‘The 1972 and 1984 droughts were key events. . . . Education and services have both been improving in the region since 1991.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Timeline keyword commonalities
Conflicts, diseases, droughts, geopolitical influences, land and land-use issues, national policies.

Keywords about the future of pastoralism
International issues, mobile phones, political representation, small towns, terrorism (and its impacts on aid).

Summing Up the Conference
After the timelines were described, some participants were asked to sum up the conference. The following are some of the things they said.

Dorothy Hodgson, Rutgers University, USA
‘Is there really such a thing as “pastoralist systems”? . . . Are we talking about pastoralism as a livelihood or as an identity? . . . Some are saying that pastoral women will drive pastoral futures. . . . We have to stop adding gender as a footnote. . . . It’s time to mainstream gender into pastoralist issues instead of “siloing” gender work’.

Peter Little, Emory University, USA
‘Population matters, politics matter, education matters to the future of pastoralism. . . . Diversification of pastoral livelihoods matter—especially as key resources are rapidly being lost. . . .Ecology matters as pastoral orbits become increasingly restricted. . . . And language matters—we should keep the word “innovation”, for example, about innovations.’

Orto Tumal, Pastoralist Shade Initiative, Kenya
‘Our future challenges are great. . . . We will, and must, march on.’

Paul Goldsmith, Develop Management Policy Forum, Kenya
‘Pastoralism has produced some very seductive literature.’

Luka Deng, Government of Sudan
‘There is a huge amount of information on pastoralists, but the real question is about what to do with it.’

Acknowledgements
Two of the conference organizers then closed the proceedings by making some acknowledgements, of which the following were included.

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Andy Catley, Tufts University
‘In the early 1980s, pastoral groups were weak and arguments for pastoral rights appeared nostalgic in tone and character. . . . A tremendous intellectual contribution to pastoralism in the years since has helped to transform pastoralist discourse at all levels. . . .  Some of the “masters” of this discourse are here in this room today. . . . Stephen Sandford (private), Jeremy Swift (freelance), Ian Scoones (Future Agricultures Consortium) and Roy Behnke (Odessa Centre) have altered the intellectual foundations of our understanding of pastoralism. . . .

‘The central importance of livestock disease, particularly the great rinderpest epidemic in East Africa at the turn of the 20th century, was mentioned by several of our timeline developers. . . . The global eradication of rinderpest was announced earlier this year. . . . Three of those who contributed significantly to this great achievement (only the human disease smallpox has been similarly eradicated from the face of the earth) are in this room and I take the privilege of acknowledging them now: Solomom Hailemarium, African Union; Darlington Akabwai, Tufts University; and Berhanu Admassu, Tufts University.’

Future of Pastoralism in Africa Conference

Ian Scoones, Future Agricultures Consortium
‘As we have heard this week, there is not one but multiple futures of pastoralism in Africa. . . . We have a new generation of African scholars contributing to African pastoralism. . . . We have an extraordinary body of scholarship now coming from this new generation. . . .’

See previous postings on the ILRI News Blog:

The future of pastoralism in Africa debated in Addis: Irreversible decline or vibrant future?, 21 March 2011.

Climate change impacts on pastoralists in the Horn: Transforming the ‘crisis narrative’, 22 March 2011.

The case for index-based livestock insurance and cash payments for northern Kenya’s pastoralists, 23 March 2011

Or visit the Future Agricultures Consortium website conference page or blog.

Mar 222011
 

Training livestock herders in Marsabit in new insurance scheme available

ILRI is working with insurance companies to train livestock herders in Kenya’s northern drylands in the benefits and costs of a new index-based livestock insurance first made available in Marsabit District in 2010 (photo credit: ILRI/Mude).

On the second day of a ‘Future of Pastoralism in Africa’ Conference, being held this week (21–23 March 2011) in Addis Ababa at the campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a panel session focused on new approaches for strengthening pastoralist livelihoods and social protection.

With decades of food aid delivery having demonstrably failed to significantly improve the livelihood prospects of Africa’s poorer pastoralists, aid agencies and governments alike are rethinking their approaches to ways of delivering aid to pastoralists. But do safety net schemes serve as life-savers or do they lock destitute pastoralists into unsustainable livelihoods? Should donors and governments help destitute pastoralists exit pastoral livelihoods? Should they help provide livestock insurance schemes?

Andrew Mude, an ILRI scientist, spoke about an index-based livestock insurance innovation that has been instituted, in partnership with UAP Insurance and Equity Bank, for pastoral herders in Marsabit District, in northern Kenya’s great drylands. This is the first insurance ever offered the Samburu, Gabra, Rendille, Borana, Turkana and other traditional herders here, who cope with variable weather by traditionally moving their stock to find new grazing when the grass in a given area is finished.

The risk covered by this insurance is periodic drought that dries up the natural rangeland vegetation, which supplies most of the feed for the pastoral cattle, sheep, goats and camels of the region, leading to many livestock deaths. Insurance payouts are made, to those who have bought annual insurance contracts, when the available forage in Marsabit District in that year drops below a level at which more than 15 per cent of the livestock would be expected to perish from starvation.

Before the ILRI team could convince commercial companies that this is a viable product, they had to convince the prospective pastoralist clients of that. So ILRI researchers invented insurance games that help livestock herders understand what the insurance covers, and what it does not, and when insurance payouts will be made, and when they will not.

Asked whether livestock insurance isn’t just another popular idea likely to fail, Mude said, ‘I wouldn’t stake my professional reputation on index livestock insurance working, but I would stake my reputation on the processes we are using to monitor the effectiveness and impacts of this new product. In fact, my team has put a “pause” on expanding livestock insurance in Kenya while we see how it goes, although we are introducing livestock insurance in Ethiopia so as to see how it does here, under different conditions.’

In the meantime, Mude’s team is monitoring the effectiveness and impacts of livestock insurance in Marsabit by following 900 households, which they first interviewed in 2009 and then again last year; they’ll continue to monitor these households over the next four years to determine if the product should be made more widely available.

The next expert to speak was Stephen Devereux, who leads a pilot Hunger Safety Net Program providing cash transfers to the people in northern Kenya’s chronically food insecure areas of Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana, Wajir districts. The payments are designed to meet basic subsistence needs. The program uses the local private sector—banks and shops—to deliver the cash to the local people.

The Hunger Safety Net Program aims to provide social assistance, insurance and justice. The first thing Devereux’s team had to consider was whether the program’s social protection should address poverty or vulnerability. The conventional way to define poverty is lack of resources, while vulnerability is characterized by uninsured risk and marginalization is a matter of lacking a voice in decision-making.

The rates of both poverty and hunger in these districts are high. Only the rich eat three times a day. Middle-income families eat just twice a day, the poor only once a day, and the very poor sometimes do not eat at all in 24 hours.

Food aid is the conventional response to prolonged drought in these as well as other pastoral areas. But food aid is not enough, and tends to be diluted through sharing. The nutritional status of children in drought-afflicted districts, moreover, was found to be alarming in 2006, for example, a full year following a drought and despite massive injections of food aid.

Among the design challenges of this social assistance is how to best target those to receive this aid: are women, for example, more responsible as well as more vulnerable? Conflicts occurring between pastoralist communities in this region are a great problem, and the food price crisis is also hurting the efficacy of this program, which can no longer provide sufficient cash to maintain adequate nutritional levels. Another worry is that the program may be trapping people in unviable livelihoods while they wait to receive benefits (some families might be better off exiting pastoralism altogether).

Complementary interventions—so-called ’cash plus’ systems—are needed to help build resilience in these communities, said Devereux. ‘A useful integrated approach would combine cash payments with services such as livestock insurance, as is being done by ILRI and its partners in Marsabit.’

For more information, see previous postings on the ILRI News Blog:

The future of pastoralism in Africa debated in Addis: Irreversible decline or vibrant future?, 21 March 2011.

Climate change impacts on pastoralists in the Horn: Transforming the ‘crisis narrative’, 22 March 2011.

Or visit the Future Agricultures Consortium website conference page or blog.