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.

This project aims to generate debate about pastoral innovation options, focusing on pastoral areas of Kenya and Ethiopia, linking insights from pastoral areas to the wider debate about science and technology in Africa.

In March 2009 over 50 pastoralists from across southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya from a dozen ethnic groups gathered in the Borana lowlands at the ‘University of the Bush’ to debate key pastoral development issues. This week-long event was hosted by the Oromia Pastoralist Association and organised by the Democracy, Growth and Peace for Pastoralists project of the Pastoralist Communication Initiative. Intense and animated discussions took place under the trees next to a tented camp established in the Gujji pastoral area. The Future Agricultures Consortium was represented by Ian Scoones of IDS and Andrew Adwera of African Centre for Technology Studies based in Kenya.

A new FAC publication documenting the results of this workshop is now available. New FAC Occasional Paper: “Pastoral Innovation Systems: Perspectives from Ethiopia and Kenya” Find additional pastoralist resources at Pastoralist Communication Initiative

Together with partners in Ethiopia and Kenya, the Science, Technology and Innovation theme of the Future Agricultures Consortium is committed to continuing the conversations started at this workshop. A next step will be to bring together pastoralists and their informal innovation networks with those formally charged with research and development and science and technology policy working in the respective countries and internationally. Discussions are underway around links with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) based in Nairobi and Addis Ababa. The on-going work on pastoral innovation systems aims to bridge some of the gaps identified in the March 2009 workshop, and forge new alliances and networks generating innovation in pastoral areas which really makes a difference to pastoralists themselves.

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