Fact Sheet: Eastern African Pastoralism

Eastern Africa has a huge hidden asset – but risks throwing it away in the quest for economic development. This is its millions-strong herds of dryland livestock managed by pastoralists. New findings show that pastoralism has immense potential value for reducing poverty, generating economic growth, managing the environment, promoting sustainable development and building climate resilience.

“For far too long, pastoralists in Africa have been viewed – mistakenly – as living outside the mainstream of national development, pursuing a way of live that is in crisis and decline. The reality is very different. Pastoralists manage complex webs of profitable cross-border trade and draw huge economic benefits from rangelands ill suited to other land use systems. Their livestock feed our families and grown our economies.” Mahboub Maalim, Execucutive Secretary, IGAD.

Facts and figures on Eastern African pastoralism

Pastoralism is a livelihood and production system practiced in the arid and semi-arid lands in the Horn and East Africa. These lands cannot support sustained and reliable agriculture because of the extreme variability (in time and place) of weather patterns (rain). Pastoralists, however, use climatic variability to their advantage to maximize the productivity of their herds. Strategies including livestock mobility and selective breeding of animals capable of tracking highly dispersed concentrations of nutrients in the rangelands enable pastoralists to make economic use of these lands without degrading the environment.


Posted on 21 September 2010 in CELEP Documents, General Policy Documents, Pastoralism & Marketing, Value of Pastoralism