Pastoralists and irrigation in the Horn of Africa: Time for a rethink?

By Stephen Sandford

There is much land in pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa that could be converted to irrigated agriculture and thus provide an alternative or additional livelihood for pastoralists. There is a long history of successful indigenous irrigation in the Horn of Africa but interventions by outsiders to involve pastoralists in irrigation in the last sixty years have largely failed. The causes for failure vary but are largely known. Many people experienced in pastoral development oppose further support by outsiders for the development of irrigation by pastoralists. This opposition ignores changes in the factors which caused past failure and in the demand for irrigation now. These changes are reviewed and attention drawn to the survival of past failures and the continuing expansion of the area of irrigation involving pastoralists. The key issues in further expansion are discussed.

File: Stephen Sanford.pdf