Lands of the Future: transforming pastoral lands and livelihoods in eastern Africa

September 2014
Jon Abbink, Kelly Askew, Dereje Feyissa Dori, Elliot Fratkin, Echi Christina Gabbert, John Galaty, Shauna LaTosky, Jean Lydall, Hussein A. Mahmoud, John Markakis, Günther Schlee, Ivo Strecker, David Turton (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Working Paper 154)

Pastoral and agro-pastoral areas in eastern Africa and elsewhere have long been regarded as peripheries in economic terms and in terms of social and cultural accomplishments. Although biased perceptions of the ‘unproductive’ uses of pastoralism have become outdated, government policies still do little to formally recognise or integrate pastoral lands as critical parts of rural livelihood systems and economic development models. Instead, many states give preference to large-scale agricultural investments in pastoral areas, resulting in the loss or fragmentation of rangelands, induced sedentarisation of pastoralists, and a radical reduction in livestock numbers. Looks at the significance of pastoralism as a productive economy and the positive bearing it has on the environment, wildlife conservation, and the health and well-being of pastoral communities. Reflects on what is at stake when one form of land use is replaced by another and when customary rules and practices are not fully recognised by policy makers. Using historical examples and current development trends, shows how the impacts of such development need not be negative. The authors urge development planners and governments to integrate the expertise of agro-pastoralists into development models and to establish strong relationships between investors, policy makers, researchers, local communities and other stakeholders in order to find equitable and long-term solutions for changing land uses.