Pastoralists in the Horn are risk managers
Pastoralism is an adaptation to risk and is a way to sustain the resilience of dryland ecosystems. It seeks optimal land-use performance over space and time through using complex and flexible strategies in a highly uncertain environment. The policy brief “Pastoralists as shrewd managers of risk and resilience” issued by WISP (World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism) in 2007 describes pastoral strategies in the Horn of Africa to manage risk such as: livestock mobility, species and breed diversity, herd splitting, redistributing assets, opportunistic cropping and other forms of livelihood diversification. Pastoralists regard risk as an unavoidable part of their lives, whereas development planners and policymakers want to avoid risk. The policy brief argues that the sheer scale of risk in the drylands makes avoidance a futile pursuit. The most rational course of action is to recognise the extraordinary adaption that pastoralism demonstrates and to find ways to enhance it.