Drought / East Africa / Ethiopia / Event / Food Security / ILRI / Kenya / Pastoralism / Somalia / Vulnerability

‘The food crisis in the Horn is essentially a livestock crisis’–Lloyd Le Page, CEO of the CGIAR

CGIAR Consortium Media Briefing at ILRI in Nairobi 1 Sep 2011

Voice of America’s Cathy Majtenyi interviews CGIAR CEO Lloyd Le Page at the CGIAR News Briefing on ‘Research Options for Mitigating Drought-induced Food Crises,’ 1 Sep 2011 (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Katy Migiro summarizes on Alertnet four ways to prevent famine in the Horn of Africa raised by experts meeting at the opening in Kenya of three days of meetings on the regional food crisis on the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The first meeting is organized by the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), followed by a meeting of Africa Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

‘“Livestock management and farming condition in the Horn are challenging. But let’s be clear: they are not fated to produce famines,” said Lloyd Le Page, CEO of Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), made up of 15 research centres around the world, which is hosting the event. . . .

Among the four top ideas discussed, two focussed on livestock.

‘Invest in livestock and agriculture
‘Experts blame hunger on decades of underinvestment in agriculture.

‘“While drought and conflict are driving the famine in Somalia, drought alone does not explain the extreme levels of food insecurity seen elsewhere in the Horn,” said Jeff Hill, director of policy, the Bureau of Food Security, the United States Agency for International Development.

‘“It is not drought but vulnerability to drought that is eroding food security in these areas and this vulnerability is the result of chronic underinvestment.”

‘This is particularly true for livestock.

‘Livestock accounts for 45 to 50 percent of Kenya’s agricultural gross domestic product, Hill said, yet it has been sorely neglected.

The food crisis in the Horn is essentially a livestock crisis,” said Le Page.

The best way to prevent famine in arid lands is to ensure access to critical dry season grazing and water areas for livestock.”

Pastoralists also need better access to information about drought ahead of time so they can plan, as well as education on appropriate responses and access to markets to sell their herds. . . .

‘Use irrigation to support pastoralism, not switch to farming
‘KARI recently launched a model 100-hectare irrigation scheme on the edge of the Chalbi Desert. One of its major crops is grass.

‘“We tend to replace grazing with crops, which is a major concern,” said [David] Mwangi.

‘“You are right in the middle of an area where livestock is the major livelihood and now you are taking over the better land, the dry season grazing areas, developing an irrigation system there, and replacing pasture.”

‘In the proposed model scheme, the grass is used to feed the home herd, which has been left behind with the women and children while the men and the best animals migrate in search of pasture.

‘This ensures the survival of these vulnerable family members in an area where the rain-fed pasture has been completely exhausted.’

Read the whole article at Alertnet: Four ways to prevent famine in the Horn of Africa—experts, 1 Sep 2011.

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