Climate change adaptation in Africa’s livestock sector
The briefing note “Supporting adaptation to climate change in Africa’s livestock sector”, issued by WISP (World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism) in 2010, argues that Africa’s livestock sector contributes negligibly to global output of greenhouse gases and that the most extensive livestock systems can even contribute environmental benefits such as maintaining rangeland biodiversity and ecosystem health. Sustainable development of the livestock sector is of great importance for the adaptive capacity of many of the world’s poorest people, and in some cases may also represent an opportunity for mitigating climate change. Pastoralism is presented as a production system that is defined by its capacity to adapt to climatic uncertainty and other hazards. The brief outlines the dimensions of adaptive capacity that determine resilience in the livestock sector: ability to make informed assessment of imminent threats, ability to make an informed choice about response measures, capability to deploy the preferred option (skills, money, infrastructure) and freedom to implement the preferred option (policy, governance, rights), e.g. protection of transhumance routes. Examples are given of how pastoralists and other livestock keepers have adapted to change by starting to keep new livestock species (camels) or by entrusting some of their livestock to nomadic herders while feeding supplements in the dry season to the animals kept near town.