Pastoral communities in the drylands of Eastern Africa are increasingly vulnerable to food and livelihood crises. Many reasons have been cited for this, including climate change and increased climatic shocks such as droughts and floods, man-made forces such as the ban on meat exports to the Gulf region and rapid population expansion overtaxing a finite natural resource base. However, no other reason is more central to the problem than the persistent cycle of inappropriate policy and practice in the region. Policies that are neither consistent with needs nor responsive to the uniqueness of the pastoral system are primarily to blame for pastoral vulnerability.
The study on which this Synthesis Paper is based reviews current policies and practice towards pastoralism of governments, development agents and pastoral communities in the Horn and East Africa. It also analyses the impact of current policies and practice on pastoralism and pastoral livelihood vulnerability, and how policies influence investment in and the development of pastoral areas. The study also presents the considerable economic contribution of traditional pastoralism, as well as recommendations on how to secure a vibrant pastoral economy through positive policy approaches which would open up opportunities for diversification and alternative livelihoods.