Drought / Drylands / DRYLANDSCRP / East Africa / ILRI / Kenya / Pastoralism / Vulnerability

Mobile herding remains a productive and sustainable use of drylands

Dinka Cattle Camp at Sunset

A Dinka cattle camp at sunset in Abyei, Sudan; the Sudanese Dinka people migrate north with 5,000 of their cattle from Warrap State to Abyei when floods hit their grazing area (photo on Flickr by UN/Tim McKulka).

Migratory herding is one of the most productive uses of drylands, says the Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation.

The Nation is reporting on a study conducted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

‘Herding in arid and semi-arid areas makes better economic sense than irrigation, a news study says.

‘The report says encouraging the region’s livestock herders to switch to growing crops or to move to cities is unrealistic as drylands would not support crops without extensive irrigation, a practice that is not only scarce but also often impractical.

‘About 70 million people live in arid lands, and many of them are herders. In Kenya, the pastoral livestock sector is estimated at $800 million. . . .

‘The best way to prevent famine in arid lands is to ensure herder access to critical dry-season grazing and watering areas. Pastoralists interviewed for the report said that obstacles to the movement of their herds . . . constituted the largest problem in protecting their animals and livelihoods.

‘A second major problem was a dearth of functioning commercial livestock markets. . . .

‘The study reinforces what others found—that migratory herding is the most productive use of much of this land.’

Read the whole article at the Daily Nation: Pastoralism a step ahead, 30 Aug 2011.

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