Pastoralism in Crisis?
Drought in the Horn of Africa – again. With the region’s worst drought in over a decade, pastoral households around the Ethiopian, Kenyan and Somali borders have been hard hit. Alongside the humanitarian response, a re-emerging debate on the future of pastoral systems is taking shape. Is the proverbial grass greener on one side than the other?
The revival of interest in pastoralism and livestock production takes two forms – one a celebration of the ‘pastoral way of life’ and the importance of indigenous systems of production and management and another focusing on the market potentials of a ‘livestock revolution’.
The Future Agricultures Consortium recognises the importance of these debates in shaping the future of pastoral production systems and livelihoods in East Africa. In order to raise the profile of this important discussion, we present one side of the debate –a pessimistic thesis by Stephen Sandford, and challenge this with a more upbeat response from Stephen Devereux and Ian Scoones of Future Agricultures.
Below is an unpublished extract written by Stephen Sandford from the book Development at the Margins: Pathways of Change in the Horn of Africa, ed. Andy Catley, Jeremy Lind and Ian Scoones (2012), Earthscan. It was written in November 2011.
Over the last half-century pastoralists’ wealth and welfare have been in sharp decline in the Horn of Africa and it is becoming increasingly urgent to find other livelihoods for many of them. This chapter is a plea for a rethink about the potential of irrigated agriculture to be a valuable alternative or additional livelihood to pastoralism. The Horn of Africa in this paper refers to the five core countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.