Facing recurrent droughts, early warning systems that integrate forecasting, hazard monitoring, disaster risk assessment and preparedness activities have been established across Africa’s drylands.

Drawing from a case in northern Kenya, the authors of the article argue that much of the associated assistance and support for early and anticipatory action “has been minimal, often ineffective and broadly out of sync with local strategies and needs.”

The article interrogates the interactions and frictions between ‘formal’ early warning systems and those of pastoralist communities, it reflects on some of the inherent limitations of current approaches to “local knowledge” in the humanitarian sphere.

It emphasises the need for new, creative approaches to early warning and anticipatory action, “not merely established via the external synthesis of data but … oriented around local pastoralist drought preparation and mitigation strategies.”

Read the full article:

Derbyshire, S.F., Banerjee, R.R., Mohamed, T.S. and Roba, G.M. 2024. Uncertainty, pastoral knowledge and early warning: A review of drought management in the drylands, with insights from northern Kenya. Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 14:13006. https://doi.org/10.3389/past.2024.13006


Derbyshire, S.F., Mohamed, T., Banerjee, R., Hassan, R. and Rogei, D.S. 2024. Anticipatory action in the drylands: steps toward centring pastoralist knowledge. ILRI Policy Brief 42. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/138679


Camels in Northern Kenya [photo: Samuel Derbyshire]