Changes in the drylands of Eastern Africa: a review of evidence and data and their implications for efforts to strengthening resilience

This report examines the implications of change on resilience programming in the eastern Africa drylands

Abstract

This report examines the implications of change on resilience programming in the eastern Africa drylands, defined to include South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda. It presents evidence of important changes that occurred over different timeframes (long-term and rapid), as well as a new conceptual model (Pastoralist Livelihood Systems Analysis) to help understand longer-term pathways for pastoral livelihoods and the consequences for poverty, vulnerability and resilience. The report focuses change since 2000, when a severe drought greatly affected the pastoral areas. It draws upon a review of more than 400 scholarly and ‘grey literature’ documents, and more than 100 data sets to identify trends in the region and implications for how pastoralists make a living.

In recent decades, people have lost access to rangeland and water resources, concentrating wealth with those able to acquire and exploit these resources in successful trade, and creating a larger group of people who have exited and are engaged in low-return activities, often in small towns. A growing proportion of the population in pastoral areas is chronically vulnerable and lacks clear alternative livelihoods. In most parts of dryland eastern Africa, per capita livestock holdings have dropped sharply, to a point at which holdings now fall far short of subsistence requirements for a large proportion of pastoralist populations.

The trends highlighted in this review – rangeland fragmentation, sedentarisation, small town growth, commercialisation, and infrastructural investment, among others – are reshaping access to resources (to support herds) and markets (for livestock and other goods). This, in turn, is driving decisions about livelihood choices and creating new livelihood pathways for the region’s dryland populations.

The Pastoralist Livelihood Systems Analysis approach is used to analyse the dynamics and impacts of change over time in pastoralist systems. Specifically, it provides a method for: (1) mapping a system in a holistic way that draws on internal and external meta-level influences as well as livelihood profiles at intra-system (group and household) level and; (2) identifying changes and understanding resilience trajectories for livelihood groups within the system. This is a crucial step towards future efforts to map and understand change in dryland eastern Africa, and subsequently to provide appropriate support to policy, markets and provision to pastoralist systems in these areas.

Citation

Lind, J.; Sabates-Wheeler, R.; Kohnstamm, S. Changes in the drylands of Eastern Africa: a review of evidence and data and their implications for efforts to strengthening resilience. IDS, Brighton, UK (2016) 50 pp.

Changes in the drylands of Eastern Africa: a review of evidence and data and their implications for efforts to strengthening resilience

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