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.


Pastoralists and policymakers debated the findings of five recent pieces of research into different areas of pastoralist innovation supported by the Future Agricultures Consortium. These studies investigate innovations in camel marketing and camel disease management in northeastern Kenya and in Ethiopia, changing land use and fodder access in areas of intense land competition in Tana River and Laikipia, a quiet revolution in peace and security mangement in Upper Eastern Kenya and southern Ethiopia and rangeland enclosures in southeastern Ethiopia.

The studies provided evidence that innovations are occurring to allow pastoral systems to adapt to changing economic, political and environmental contexts. Such innovations are rooted in local cultures, networks and knowledge. Pastoralists at the gathering agreed that support for such innovation processes, rooted in local organisations, is urgently needed if pastoral livelihoods are to be sustained and peace maintained.

Following extensive review and debate by pastoralists at the University of the Bush, FAC researchers, led by Jeremy Lind, the Pastoralism Theme Convenor, took their results to Nairobi and presented them to the Minister for Northern Kenya, Mohammed Elmi. He invited FAC, together with other partners, to work with the ministry on issues of land and pastoralism in the northern areas of Kenya, building on the evidence gathered to date.

The results of the FAC research have been compiled into a series of policy briefings, based on research papers to be presented at the Africa-wide conference on the Future of Pastoralism in Africa. This will be co-hosted by FAC and Tufts University in Addis Ababa and will provide an important platform for the wider debate of FAC’s pastoralism research. Substantial interest in this event has already been generated, with donors, NGOs and regional bodies – including IGAD, Comesa and the African Union – all keen to participate. In the longer term, FAC and partners hope this effort will help fill the major gap in regional policy positions on pastoral areas and livestock based livelihoods, including the almost complete absence of discussion of such issues by such bodies as CAADP and AGRA.

By Ian Scoones, FAC Co-coordinator

Further resources: