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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.

Researchers discuss pastoralist innovation: Video

Commentary_darkFAC Researchers speak about pastoral innovation after presenting five research findings at FAC's University of the Bush in November 2010.


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University of the Bush: Seminar 2

future_pastoralismThe second in the series of seminars known as the ‘University of the Bush’ took place at Malka Bisan Adi near Kinna, Kenya, on 22-24 November 2010. Around 50 pastoralists attended from across Kenya and southern Ethiopia. They were joined by the local MP, Hon. Abdul Ali Bahar and MP for Saku and Deputy Minister for the Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands, Hon. Hussein Tari Sasura. Two representatives from DFID-Kenya also attended the seminar.


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Pastoral Policy in Ethiopia: High Level Seminar

What does the future hold for pastoral areas in Ethiopia? What policy frameworks might work to enhance the economic potential of the livestock sector, as well as assure sustainable livelihoods in the dry zones? These are just some of the questions which were debated in a seminar held in December 2006 at the University of Sussex.

The seminar was co-hosted by the UNOCHA Pastoral Communications Initiativeand the Future Agricultures Consortium. Read the seminar programme and download the workshop report(3.7mb)

The Future of Pastoralism in Africa

CamelCaseStudyAn international conference to debate the future of pastoralists in Africa, 21-23 March 2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The future of pastoralism in Africa is uncertain and radical changes are affecting Pastoralist areas in terms of access to resources, options for mobility and opportunities for marketing. These changes bring new possibilities for making pastoralist livelihoods stronger but many questions remain about the sustainability of these changes: Is there opportunity for a productive, vibrant, market-oriented livelihood system or will pastoralist areas remain a backwater of underdevelopment, marginalisation and severe poverty? How can pastoralist ‘drop-outs’ be supported after they leave the livelihood but continue to interact with the livestock sector?

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E-debate: 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?

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Pastoralist Innovation Systems

ethiopia_march_2009II The research focus of this project has been to explore and critically assess pastoralist innovation systems.

There has been very little literature on innovation in the livestock sector and a particular lack of knowledge on innovation involving pastoralists. Existing formal innovation systems in the livestock sector emphasise the development of new technology and knowledge by scientists, such as cross-breeding livestock and improving methods of artificial insemination, reflecting a bias toward ranching and commercial beef production.

Policy briefing

Innovation works: pastoralists building secure livelihoods in the Horn of Africa (download PDF)

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Publication: Pastoral Innovation Systems

Pastoralist Innovation Systems

While there has been much discussion of the importance of innovation in African agriculture, remarkably little has focused on mobile pastoral systems. Everyone agrees that science, technology and innovation must be at the centre of economic growth, livelihood improvement and development more broadly. But it must always be asked: what innovation - and for whom? Decisions about direction, diversity and distribution are key in any discussion of innovation options and wider development pathways.

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Further Reading

  • Pastoral Economic Growth and Development Policy Assessment, Ethiopia: Four papers related to pastoral economic growth and development in Ethiopia and commissioned by the Department for International Development (DfID) at the request of the Government of Ethiopia.
  1. Retrospective Assessment of Pastoral Policies in Ethiopia, 1991-2008
  2. Future Scenarios for Pastoral Development in Ethiopia, 2010-2025
  3. Policy Options for Pastoral Development in Ethiopia
  4. Policy Options for Pastoral Development in Ethiopia and Reaction from the Regions