Land investment, pastoralist rights & conflict in the Horn
A two-day international conference on “Large-scale agricultural investments in pastoral lowlands of the Horn of Africa: implications for minority rights and pastoral conflicts” was organised by Addis Ababa University’s Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in 2013. The 322-page book based on this conference, entitled A delicate balance: land use, minority rights and social stability in the Horn of Africa is now available (2014). Three chapters are based on commissioned research in Ethiopia’s lowlands where land deals are occurring. The research, conference and publication were funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). Other chapters include case studies from other parts of the Horn, mainly in Ethiopia.
The authors examine whether land investments threaten the lives and livelihoods of pastoralists or are implemented in ways that augment local livelihoods and contribute to pastoral transformation. They assume that detailed examination of realities based on empirical data collected at local level will inform policy-level debates. In the Horn of Africa, the governments tend to regard the rangelands as hardly used, owing to the sparse population density and extensive pastoral use of natural resources, and therefore eligible for transfer to investors. Most large-scale agricultural investments in this part of Africa are found in pastoral areas. The authors consider not only economic and development issues but also questions of how the land investments impact the sociopolitical and cultural rights of pastoralist communities and influence conflict dynamics in pastoral areas.