On 6 December 2023, the Observatory joined partners to co-organize a COP28 food systems pavilion session on ‘anticipatory action’ at the intersection of livestock agri-food systems, climate action, land and mobility rights, security, governance and humanitarian action.

In the face of increasing environmental shocks and climate change, it aimed to show the importance of dryland systems as policy/intervention areas (and the pastoralist communities in them as key actors and allies), calling for more and better investments in adaptation and resilience with co-benefits for mitigation.

Co-organized by the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action with ALive4Climate partners the International Livestock Research Institute, the International Land Coalition, Mercy Corps and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, it brought pastoralist voices together to explore investment priorities and solutions for Africa’s drylands and rangelands.

It’s starting point was that pastoralists in drylands have a long experience of successful adaptation and response to shocks. With the right support, this adaptive expertise can inform and enrich future investment choices, not just towards more sustainable livelihoods and agrifood systems through climate adaptation and resilience to shocks but also leading to positive and just climate outcomes, such as improved carbon sequestration and climate mitigation.

Watch the recording

Setting the scene

The session discussions were framed by Guyo Malicha Roba, head of the Jameel Observatory.

He briefly introduced the importance of drylands and rangelands as a significant feature of Africa’s landscapes, covering two-thirds of Africa and providing livelihoods for millions of people. He explained why pastoralism matters – as systems providing food security, through livestock, that are well-suited to drylands and, moreover, contributing substantially to GDP.

“Research shows that pastoralism has better food security than crops in dryland areas” – Guyo Malicha Roba

He highlighted some issues and challenges that undermine pastoral and dryland systems:

  • Misconceptions shaping policies;
  • Increasing stresses and shocks are adding to existing risks;
  • Coping strategies of communities are stressed;
  • Recurring shocks challenge the notion that communities can successfully ‘bounce back’ and recover.

He singled out maladaptation as a growing risk where interventions like dryland farming, rangeland reseeding with new species or charcoal production and sale may undermine rather than reinforce resilience. It is critical that interventions are well-conceived and designed.

He concluded with calls for action: Local knowledge is often discounted in official discourses, or difficult to mobilize, but we nevertheless must draw from it to achieve good results; the data underpinning prediction, forecasting and vulnerability assessment is often weak, and weakest in the drylands, so these systems and how they link to action need strengthening; and finally, the capacities of dryland communities are really stretched to prepare and adapt to multiple shocks, so we need to build transformative anticipatory and management capacities of people in drylands.



Following on, in a video interview, Dodo Boureima, President of the Réseau Billital Maroobè, explained how multi-dimensional crises, that repeat almost every year, are putting major stress on the pastoral communities.

He highlighted a fundamental challenge for resilient drylands in the Sahel – that humanitarian aid only tackles one dimension of pastoralism – the animals and their survival – rather than the people themselves. Hence his organization is now giving much more attention to geographic and social targeting, to better include vulnerable communities. He also emphasized the importance of inter-generational dialogue to reinforce understanding between young and old.

Concluding, he called for “real political recognition of pastoralism,” investing in an approach that addresses all the crises – political, security, climatic: “we cant deal with the crisis segment by segment.”




Group discussion

After the framing comntributions, participants formed small groups (images below – click to enlarge), each with a resource person, to discuss challenges and options/interventions:

  • Nuria Gollo, CEO of Marsabit Women Advocacy and Development Organization
  • Amadou Adamou, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, Cameroon
  • Jarso Mokku, CEO Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative and Head, Kenya Pastoralist Parliamentary Group
  • Laureen Ongesa, Programme Officer, RECONCILE

Laureen Ongesa, Programme Officer at RECONCILE:

Some key points from the group: Practicing pastoralism in itself is a response and adaptation to climate change, it offers a a rational use of the drylands. While pastoralists face increasing pressure on their livelihoods due to depletion and degradation of their productive resources, collective land rights and tenure play decisive roles in sustaining pastoral productive systems.

Priorities for governments and the international community include:  better understanding of the adaptive capacities of pastoralism; calculating fuller costs and benefits estimates for different adaptation strategies involving pastoralists; building voices of pastoralists through national, regional and global initiatives; including the returns – in terms of enhanced adaptive capacity – on investments in pastoralism into adaptation policy development; scaling up of sucessful pilot community-based adaptation projects with pastoralists and other vulnerable dryland communities, including at the regional level.

Read a full discussion summary



Jarso Mokku, CEO of the Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative and Head, Kenya Pastoralist Parliamentary Group:

Some key points from the group: The impacts of drought-stress, back-to-back shocks, and loss of assets and human lives is affecting the mental health of many pastoralist families, leading to domestic violence and people stepping away to survive. Pastoralist people and pastoralism have a weak influence on power and politics.  There is more incentive for relief and emergency humanitarian aid support than willing donors to support pastoralism development initiatives. Urgent action is required to enable pastoralists to get their ancestral land legally secured. Mismatches of policy action litter the pastoralist landscape and are adding to the current climate change crisis. Policy-making processes often exclude pastoralist voices and policy-makers’ ways of thinking are alien to the pastoralist realities.

For policy development in this space, three things that must come together are: Livestock, people and land – and it is important that we avoid addressing them in silo’s. Further, where we do already have policies, we need to them into actions.

Read a full discussion summary


    Synthesis and reflections

    Following an interactive slot in which four resource people shared and discussed their experiences with participants, key points from the session were synthesized

    Kunow Sheikh Abdi, Kenya Country Director, Mercy Corps: He started by emphasizing the that we have much traditional experience in pastoral areas and communities; there is much to build on. He noted the great emphasis in the discussions, generally, on environment issues – we need to focus much more on people.

    He called for early and anticipatory investments that get us, and the communities ahead of crises and to be very careful in designing ‘carbon rush’ projects and investments, to avoid maladaptation.

    Jean de Matha Ouedraogo, Multi-Country Project Manager PROARIDES at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation: In general, we need to explicitly connect livestock, pastoralism and climate change; enabling communities to manage transitions towards resilient livelihoods. He further emphasized: 1) Rangeland assets and access are critical: they must remain accessible and be restored with community leadership; 2) Sustainable investment in rangelands, livestock and pastoral areas is key for environmental protection, carbon sequestration, as well as for livelihoods and security, and 3) we need more and improved communication that reinforces peace-building and inter-community understanding.

    Reflection Remarks - Natasha Maru Natasha Maru, Global Lead for Rangelands and Pastoralists, International Land Coalition: The knowledge of how pastoralist systems are so strong exists. And (the knowledge) of the kind of policy solutions exists. But there is a very strong lack of political will in making those solutions operational. And something that can be a push back to the lack of political will is pastoralists organising together and forming a good strong voice at national levels, at regional levels so that they can be an important constituency that can influence policy decisions.

    Watch the recording


     Our appreciation to the speakers:

    • Facilitator: Vivian Atakos, Engagement, Policy and Advocacy Expert at CGIAR Gender Platform
    • Framing presentation: Guyo Malicha Roba, Head of the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action, Kenya
    • Short video: Dodo Boureima, President of the Réseau Billital Maroobè
    • Interactive space with: Nuria Gollo, CEO of the Marsabit Women Advocacy and Development Organization, Kenya; Amadou Adamou, National President of the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, Cameroon; Jarso Mokku, CEO of the Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative and Head, Kenya Pastoralist Parliamentary Group; Laureen Ongesa, Programme Officer at RECONCILE, Kenya
    • Reflections and key insights with: Kunow Sheikh Abdi, Kenya Country Director, Mercy Corps; Jean de Matha Ouedraogo, Multi-Country Project Manager PROARIDES at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation; Natasha Maru, Global Lead for Rangelands and Pastoralists, International Land Coalition.

    and the co-organizers:

    • Peter Ballantyne, Communications Lead for the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action
    • Piers Simpkin, Senior Livestock Adviser at Mercy Corps
    • Natasha Kirit Maru, Global Lead for Rangelands and Pastoralists at International Rangelands Coalition
    • Serge Aubague, Pastoralism/livestock Global Technical Advisor at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation
    • Cynthia Mugo, Sustainable Livestock Policy Advisor at International Livestock Research Institute
    • Catherine le Come, Deputy Sector Head Agri-Food at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation

    Read a short report on the session by ILRI



    Some images from the session

    Click on an image to enlarge …