Comprehensive Livestock Study in Horn of Africa
On behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a 9-month study was made in 2003–04 of the livestock sector and related conflicts over natural resources in six of the countries in the Greater Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan). The main aims were to provide a comprehensive picture of the current situation of pastoralists in this region and likely future developments and to design ICRC aid guidelines related to livestock-keeping at regional and country level. The 304-page report Regional Livestock Study in the Greater Horn of Africa (2005) documents the changing role of livestock in land-use systems in the region, livestock-related tensions or conflicts, and alternative (non-livestock) support mechanisms for livelihoods of local people. It includes a review of interventions, policies, networks, databases and early warning systems (EWS) in the Horn. By taking a regional approach and incorporating cross-border issues, the study could recommend ways to harmonise approaches to emergency aid and development in the Horn. The author, Piers Simpkin, gives much attention to the contrast between the concept of “equilibrium environments”, where range resources are affected by livestock density, and “disequilibrium environments”, where the number of animals has less influence than does rainfall, drought or conflict on the availability of range resources. Applying equilibrium thinking in much of the Horn of Africa leads to undergrazing the pastures and effectively reduces productivity. In disequilibrium environments, a more flexible response is required – a tracking strategy (matching animal numbers and feed supply) and/or opportunistic management with high levels of mobility and associated drought-contingent planning.