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.


Through expert panel discussions, the dialogue critically examined the central themes of the New Alliance – leveraging investment, increasing cooperation and trade – and how this can be sustained and strengthened to strengthen food security nutrition for pastoral populations of the Horn. Panel discussions focused on (i) livestock production and marketing, (ii) investment in drylands by states and other actors, and (iii) the role of social protection in supporting sustainable growth and transformation.


About pastoralism in the Horn of Africa

The pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa are some of the most dynamic economically on the continent.  A combined export and domestic livestock trade of $1 billion per annum represents a substantial injection of resources into often very poor areas. Livestock marketing is driving urban and small town growth, employment and a system of trade that stretches across the region. Nowhere is this more evident than in Ethiopia. Its government has set ambitious targets to increase livestock exports as a key component of its national development strategy. The Ethiopian Growth and Transformation Plan sets a target of an eight-fold increase in earnings from live animals and meat exports combined, from US$ 125 million in 2009/10 to US$ 1 billion in 2014/5. Already, burgeoning livestock exports from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula and beyond over the past decade have helped to catalyse investments in roads, transport, feedlots, veterinary care, and marketing facilities. The pull of this trade extends all the way to northern Kenya, where the border town of Moyale has emerged as major gateway for Kenyan camels into Ethiopia.

Alongside burgeoning livestock trades, a host of foreign and domestic investments in agriculture, infrastructure and energy is knitting pastoral areas more tightly into regional systems of trade and economic activity. One of the most significant investments in the region, the $29 billion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (or LAPSSET), will link South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya through a road network, standard gauge railway, international airports, a port at Lamu on the Kenyan coast, and oil pipelines. It provides opportunities to extend livestock commercialisation as well as spur related enterprises in animal care and processing. Vast reservoirs of energy in the Horn’s rangelands are also the focus of other significant new investments, including the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in northern Kenya, hydrocarbon exploration (in northern Kenya and Uganda), photovoltaics (in Kenya and Ethiopia) and dams (in Ethiopia).

While the importance of livestock to the region’s economic prospects is increasingly recognised by governments in the Horn of Africa, many state and private investments in pastoral areas have yet to promote broader-based growth and transformation for the vast majority of pastoralists who remain highly vulnerable. Indeed, livestock commercialisation and accelerating investments in drylands are happening alongside a deepening of livelihood insecurities for most pastoralists, as seen during the severe drought crisis that affected the region in 2010-2012.

About the New Alliance

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a G8 initiative that seeks to create new jobs and market opportunities in the agricultural sectorsupported by a package of ‘enabling actions’ aimed at mobilising capital, improving access to new technology, and managing risk. While the New Alliance agenda to date has little to say about pastoralism, investments in livestock and energy in the rangelands are a cornerstone of current and planned national development strategies in the region. Ethiopia is the sole New Alliance country in the Horn of Africa, and proposes to refine regulatory frameworks to advance private sector investments in livestock production and value chain development. It has also established a one‐window service in the Ministry of Agriculture to assist investors identify livestock industry and commercial ranching opportunities. Yet, it is unclear how these policy actions map onto a broader agenda for promoting broad-based growth and transformation of pastoral areas.

Future Agricultures work on Pastoralism

Through our Pastoralism research theme, 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.

Find out more about our Pastoralism theme