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Pastoralism is changing. Food crises and a lack of government support are fuelling concerns that pastoralist livelihoods are unviable, both as a way of life and a system of producing food.


Yet new opportunities are opening up: better communications, transport and large shifts in trade are changing the commercial landscape. And some governments are embracing pastoralism more closely than before as part of their economic strategy.


The Future Agricultures Consortium is investigating the changing landscape of pastoralism in the Horn of Africa. We are examining who wins and loses from the changes taking place, and why.  We are also looking at the new forms pastoralism is taking, and how pastoralists are responding to change in different ways.

Regional dialogue on Pastoralism and the 'New Alliance', June 2014

A regional dialogue in Addis Ababa on 10 June 2014 explored how the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition can be harnessed to strengthen food security and nutrition for populations living in pastoral areas. The event, organised by Future Agricultures and Tufts University, was entitled "Stronger food security and nutrition in dryland and pastoral areas: harnessing the potential of the New Alliance".

Presentations from the event are available to view and download.

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Pastoralism, politics and violence

Pastoralists in EthiopiaTwo new working papers present studies of conflict among pastoralists and other groups in two regions of the Horn of Africa and an area of Northern Namibia.

Pastoralists are responding to social and economic changes in different ways. Understanding the challenges, history, politics of these situations can help to point the way towards supporting greater dialogue and development.

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Learning from pastoralists on climate change


Change is sweeping the Greater Horn of Africa and many of the other drylands of the world. New threats are appearing, as well as opportunities. In a new post on the ILRI blog, Susan MacMillan looks at the section on climate change in the book Pastoralism and Development in Africa.

The chapter on climate change, written by scientists connected to ILRI, argues that efforts to adapt to climate change will need to need to learn from pastoralists.

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Pastoralism in Ethiopia: new briefings and paper

camel trader

The pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa are some of the most dynamic economically on the continent, with a combined export and domestic livestock trade surpassing $1 billion per annum. Livestock marketing is driving urban and small town growth, employment and a system of trade that stretches across the region.

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Book: Pastoralism and Development in Africa

Pastoralism book cover

This book gives a view of ‘development at the margins’ in the pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa. Edited by Andy Catley, Jeremy Lind and Ian Scoones, Pastoralism and Development In Africa highlights innovation and entrepreneurialism, cooperation, networking and diverse approaches which are rarely in line with standard development prescriptions. (Description en français)

Through 20 detailed empirical chapters, the book highlights diverse pathways of development beyond the standard narratives.

Paperback, £24.95 GBP
Buy online (discount code: PDA20)

This book is part of the STEPS Centre's Pathways to Sustainability book series.


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Opening 'policy space' for pastoralism in Kenya

garissa1Pastoralism in Kenya has been neglected and understood. A new government Ministry was formed in 2008 aimed to create policy and institutional change.

A new Working Paper by Izzy Birch and Mohamed Elmi tells the story of the Ministry. It looks at what progress has been made and what the future holds for pastoral development in the country.

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Project: The politics of changing pastoral livelihoods in the Horn of Africa

kenya_market_webThis project explores how changes in social, economic and political systems in the Horn of Africa are changing the nature of pastoralism, and the new types of pastoralism that are emerging.

Our research explores the following areas:

The characteristics of the changing economy in pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa associated with new dynamics of marketing, trade, investment and integration,

the emergence of new forms of pastoralism, and pastoral engagement with other production systems, in and as a result of these new systemic contexts, and

the changing engagement of pastoralists and pastoral systems in political environments in the region.

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Pastoralist innovation in Kenya

Woman herding camelsOn 29th April 2013 the RVI hosted a seminar to discuss the book Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins, in collaboration with the Future Agricultures Consortium.

The seminar brought together researchers, policy makers and practitioners to reflect critically on how pastoral?driven innovation can be incorporated into policies and investments for strengthening pastoralism in the Horn of Africa.

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Studies on the economic contributions of livestock in North and East Africa

cattle1Livestock is important to the economies of countries in Northern and Eastern Africa, and there has been a need to demonstrate this contribution. The FAO IGAD Livestock Policy Initiative has published a series of studies by Roy Behnke (together with co-authors) on the contribution of livestock to the national economies of four countries in the region: Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.

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Pastoralism book launch, Kenya: video & audio


The book Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins had its Kenya launch in Nairobi on 13 February 2013. The keynote speaker was Hon. Mohamed Elmi, Minister of State for Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands, who spoke about the book to an audience of policy makers, researchers, development practitioners and journalists.

“What I value about this book is the richness and diversity it portrays. It does not ignore the challenges, nor the fact that the changes we are witnessing in pastoral areas – of greater commercialisation, individualisation and integration – will have both winners and losers. But alongside these it gives us the positive examples of pastoralists adapting successfully to change, as they always have. And it captures the innovation among peoples who are too often dismissed as backward and reactionary,” said the Minister.

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FAC and its partners host MPs meeting on pastoral livelihoods and policy


Securing land tenure for pastoralists in Kenya is one of the major concerns for policymakers from the pastoral community.

A breakfast meeting hosted by Future Agricultures Consortium and its partners, Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE) and Pastoralists Development Network of Kenya (PDNK) addressed the issue.  Members of parliament from the pastoral community expressed concerns that pastoralists continue to lose large chunks of their land to competing interests such as irrigation agricultural and to private developers.

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