Nikola Rass

As the moderator of the Alive/LEAD e-conference on Maintaining mobility and managing drought, Policy options for pastoral livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa I would like to use this opportunity to send you the summary of the discussion module 1.2. of the conference (See Annex A attached here to) as this module has lead a similar discussion on the bases of the ten legs thesis of Stephen Sandford. Furthermore I would like to use this opportunity to step out of the role of a moderator and express my personal opinion on the topic.

In my understanding, the criticisms of Scoones and Devreux concerning the TLU/person ratio put forward in the ten legs thesis of Sandford are in fact not contradictory to Sandford’s own opinion. In a recent FAO policy note on pastoral policies in Sub Saharan Africa his opinion concerning TLU/person ratios is presented as follows:
“Sandford (2006 personal communication) points out that the number of livestock needed per pastoral household also depends on the extent to which:
• Pastoralists can make use of trade to buy cheaper food in exchange for livestock and their products;
• Pastoralists have diversified their economic activities and consequently receive remittances, wages or profits.”
I am very much in favour of the ten legs thesis of Stephen Sandford, as it has helped to raise interest in the discussion of policy directions for pastoral development. As Scoones and Devreux say, it comes to show that it is time to realize a more sophisticated approach to pastoral development thinking that recognizes major resource constraints and significant challenges to pastoral livelihoods.

Most of the points Sandford puts forward convince me. However, there are some points and some policy suggestion that I do not fully agree with. I agree that emigration of a substantial proportion of pastoralists from both substantial dependence on livestock and from pastoral areas is an important strategy addressing the fundamental imbalance needs. However, I believe that diversification strategies within the pastoral system are equally important and I understand that those two strategies are not given the same priority in the 10 legs thesis.

As stated in the ten legs thesis, I consider the development of diversified income-earning opportunities not dependent on demand from within pastoral areas (e.g. in the production and gathering of “pharmaceutical” products) as a strategy, which needs to be supported. However, as already questioned in the ALive/LEAD e-conference, I believe that concerning the diversification strategies the leading question is how it can be prevented that complementary income generating activities lead to an increasing exploitation and degradation of non pastoral natural resources. What are the options to condemn the degradation around urban centers, resulting from decreased mobility of settled pastoral households? How can damaging practices like increased firewood collection, hunting and poaching etc. be confined? In this context, I believe pricing of natural resources and ensuring payment for environmental services are policy options leading in the right direction.

Concerning the exit strategies I believe it needs to be discussed whether there are (enough) alternative income generating options for pastoral people and what kind of activities they could engage in. What are the comparative advantages of pastoral people in the labour market? In my view the policy strategies to facilitate the engagement of pastoral people in alternative income generating activities should start from two angles. On the one hand investment opportunities for pastoral people need to be identified followed by the creation of access to credit and training in order to enable pastoral people to pursue the investment opportunity. On the other hand investment of the public sector in labour intensive infrastructure could create additional labour for pastoral people. For the private sector laws might be set up that set incentives to train and hire ethnic minorities including pastoral people.

I believe that the ILO INDISCO project is one of the few organisations taking into account this aspect so far. In co-operation with the Jobs for Africa Programme, the ILO-INDISCO Programme, has developed an initiative in Tanzania Simanjiro District on how to incorporate specific pastoral livelihood and employment promotion issues into the national employment policy and poverty eradication framework. The Programme addresses the current changes in the income generating activities of indigenous people, such as the Maasai, many of which move to urban areas to search for jobs. ILO-INDISCO has recognized the plight and problems of pastoral communities and has the objective to effect that the pastoral community is given more attention in the public employment sector as contemplated in ILO Convention No. 169 (ILO 1989).2

I am hesitant to accept the statement of the ten legs thesis that significant redistribution is not, in practice, feasible and I would like to see further research in this area. I believe that a pivotal point for the investigation of rehabilitation strategies seems to be to get a better understanding of the ongoing transformations of traditional schemes of redistribution and to find answers to the question why contract herding for absentee herd-owners is becoming a new trend. Although the positive records of successful restocking programmes seem small to me, I like the idea to induce the purchase of livestock from destitute pastoralists (with very small herd) to less destitute pastoralists (pastoralists with herd size at the edge of viability), while at the same time establishing programs of alternative income generation for the destitute pastoralists. This would, on the one hand, provide destitute pastoralists with start-up capital and, on the other, ensure that marginalized pastoralists have access to female breeding stock and are not forced to work for absentee herd owners.

The only policy suggestion in the ten legs thesis that I strongly disagree with is the suggestion to develop, more productive and more sustainable rain-fed or irrigated crop-agriculture within or near pastoral areas into which previous pastoralists can switch their livelihoods. As Scoones (1994) and Niamir-Fuller and Turner (Niamir-Fuller and Turner 1999) put forward the areas which offer possibilities for farming are especially important for livestock production. In dry seasons or in dry years, these relatively small patches within a wider dryland landscape are the key resources that sustain animals in times of fodder shortage. The exclusion of pastoralists from these key pastoral resources can lead to significant disruption of the annual transhumance cycle. In line with Scoones (1994) I believe that enhancing or even creating key-resource-areas by investing in these key sites could be a practicable way to improve the primary productivity of rangelands (e.g. investment in fodder management, planting of fodder shrubs and trees, reseeding) by leading to productivity enhancement in good years and offering survival feeding in poor years.

Reading the first responses to the note of Scoones and Devreux and the note of Stephen Sandford, it seems that the latter is always referred to as a pessimistic and the prior as the optimistic perspective. This makes me feel that synthesis of both views would lead us to a somewhat realistic perspective and I hope that the debates lead here and elsewhere will lead us there.