Paper: Increasing African drylands pastoralists' resilience to climate change

November 2017

News

Livestock is a vital and valuable part of Africa’s drylands, supporting the livelihoods of over 110 million people across the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Through the production and trade of  meat, milk and skins, (agro-)pastoralists contribute significantly to the region’s economy and the demand for livestock products continues to grow. At the same time, drylands are also among the poorest regions, with an estimated 80% of all pastoralists in Sub-Saharan Africa living below the poverty line. Climate change and competition over resources threaten pastoralist systems in African drylands and risk to drive vulnerable communities further into poverty.

SNV provides pastoralists and agro-pastoralists with the tools, knowledge and capacity to increase their resilience and build sustainable livelihoods.

The mobility of pastoralists, which is crucial in adapting to changing conditions of water and pasture resources, is increasingly under pressure. Historic marginalisation, under-investment and policies promoting in - migration of agriculturalists, sedentarisation, security threats and privatisation of resources - have severely weakened the pastoral system and led to increased fragmentation of, and competition over, natural resources.

These challenges are, and will increasingly be, amplified by the impacts of climate change. It is expected that higher temperatures, more variable rainfall and an increase in extreme weather events will severely affects the pasture and water resources that are so critical for pastoralists. This makes it more and more difficult for pastoralists to adapt to new shocks and move out of poverty. Without action, the number of poor and vulnerable people within pastoral communities is likely to increase drastically. 

In its many years working with pastoral communities throughout East and West Africa, SNV has developed effective strategies to enable pastoralists to build resilient livelihoods and become part of profitable value chains. Our goal is to stimulate this demand-driven approach to poverty alleviation so pastoralists can optimally benefit from the variety of advantages that livestock offers them, including food & nutrition security, work, economic and social status and a cash buffer against shocks.

Despite the many challenges, there are growing opportunities in the livestock sector that can benefit pastoralists and drylands. Pastoralism has demonstrated its capacity to adapt to ever-changing environments and has the potential to contribute to meeting the growing demand for meat and milk, including in urban areas.

This SNV paper highlights the different approaches and tools that SNV is implementing, along with examples illustrating what we have achieved in various countries. SNV works at the producer level, the supply chain level and across the wider landscape to deliver livelihood benefits for pastoralists and achieve sustainable development at scale.

Expert

Catherine Le Côme

Senior Advisor - Agriculture & Project Manager - STAMP


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