Watering camels in a makeshift trough on the road from Wajir to Garissa, in northeast Kenya; herders are taking advantage of the rains to water their livestock after a long period of drought (photo on Flickr by Ann Weru/IRIN).
The New Agriculturist this month reports on a recent study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) that argues that pastoralism remains a productive use of the drylands of Kenya. The evidence of this research indicates that what is most helpful to the pastoral communities in Kenya are policies that support free movement of herders to new pastures and viable livestock markets.
‘Increasing the mobility of pastoralists could prevent future food crises in drylands, a new study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has found. The report on the response to the 2008–2009 drought in Kenya, suggests that the best way to avoid famine is to ensure that herders have access to grazing and watering areas, with herders stating that obstacles to the movements of their herds was their greatest problem. A lack of functioning markets was another problem, requiring investment to improve roads, markets, and information access.
‘The study concluded that pastoralism was the most productive use of drylands in the Horn of Africa, with crop agriculture often requiring extensive irrigation. “We need new approaches and effective models for managing risk and promoting sustainable development, especially in the face of climate change and increasing droughts in many areas,” says Jan de Leeuw, an ecologist at ILRI and lead author of the report. “Some of the worst impacts of the drought can be avoided if the region’s dryland livestock systems are well regulated.” . . .’
Read the whole article in New Agriculturist: Pastoralism best way to cope with droughts, Aug 2011.