Animal Production / Climate Change / ILRI / Livestock / Opinion piece / Pro-Poor Livestock / Research / Southern Africa / Vulnerability

ILRI in southern Africa–More efforts needed to address vulnerability and climate change

For the November 2011 ‘liveSTOCK Exchange’ event at ILRI, Sikhalazo Dube, from South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council (ARC), reflects on ILRI’s work in southern Africa …

Livestock research and development practitioners in the region welcomed the opening up of ILRI’s regional office in southern Africa five years ago. ILRI identified two areas as possible entry points: a) enhancing the market participation of smallholder farmers, and b) reducing the vulnerability and increasing the resilience of communities who derive the bulk of their livelihoods from livestock.

Since then, ILRI has made progress with the theme on enhancing market opportunities, as is shown by ongoing work on value chain analysis and innovations systems approaches with a focus on cattle and goats in selected countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). However, there is still a visible gap on the reducing vulnerability theme. This is one area that ILRI still needs to do more in this region.

This region has been identified as one of the hotspots for climate change with most model projections to 2050 indicating a largely dry region. There is no doubt that management of feeding resources for livestock, including water, will become an area where we need innovations focused on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

As we look to the future, we need to address the role of livestock, particularly small stock, in the livelihoods of poor farmers. History will judge us by our ability to feed vulnerable members of society in a climate-challenged world. There is opportunity for ILRI to strengthen its collaboration with existing partners and create new ones in order to meaningfully contribute to this agenda.

We look forward to continued engagement with ILRI in advancing the livestock agenda for sustainable natural resources in the face of global climate change. As an ILRI champion in this region, I am grateful to have worked under the guidance of former ILRI director general Carlos Seré and have no doubt that ILRI and the partners benefited from his great leadership. I had the pleasure of meeting Carlos and listening and reading his work. His passion was evident and inspirational.

I wish Carlos well in his new endeavors and look forward to working with ILRI’s new director general, Jimmy Smith.

Agriculture remains the cornerstone of the society we live in and together we can do more!

Contributed by Sikhalazo Dube, senior scientist, rangeland ecology and management, with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) of South Africa and ILRI ‘champion’ in the region.

On 9 and 10 November 2011, the ILRI Board of Trustees hosted a 2-day ‘liveSTOCK Exchange’ to discuss and reflect on livestock research for development. The event synthesized sector and ILRI learning and helped frame future livestock research for development directions.

The liveSTOCK Exchange also marked the leadership and contributions of Dr. Carlos Seré as ILRI Director General. See all posts in this series / Sign up for email alerts

One thought on “ILRI in southern Africa–More efforts needed to address vulnerability and climate change

  1. I fully agree with Sikhalazo. Livestock will play a key role in the adaptation of farming systems to drier and more variable climate conditions in important parts of Southern Africa. Much of the adaptation discourse is related to adapting individual crops to drier and hotter conditions. while this is important we need to look at adaptation at a farm and watershed level too and go beyond more adapted varieties of the same crops. We need to address this with a systems perspective. Future systems could well have more livestock, different animal species mixes, more trees, more on farm water management. Lots of new knowledge required at all levels from farmers (particlarly the young ones) to researchers and policy makers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s