The Horn of Africa comprises unique multi-functional landscapes with rich and abundant resources that can help meet development goals on human nutrition, food security and healthy ecosystems. Livestock – mainly cattle, sheep, goats and camels – support up to 94 million pastoralists in the region through provision of income, food and nutritional security and employment, and they build resilience to shocks and strengthen agricultural systems.

Their products feed and give livelihoods to people in towns and cities, and they provide foreign exchange and revenue through exports. Often, livestock are the only convertible assets that pastoralist households own.

Depending on local conditions, the rangelands grazed by livestock and managed by pastoral communities can enhance ecosystem health and sequester carbon, thus helping to mitigate climate change.

Droughts, which happen frequently and cause forage and water scarcity, are the largest shocks currently faced by pastoralists in the region. While pastoralists have always experienced periods of drought, today these droughts occur more frequently, more intensely, and closer together than before, providing little respite for recovery.
While forage and water are essential for pastoralists and their livestock, rangeland and water planning – and herders’ engagement in this – is often neglected. There is uncertainty about which investments in infrastructure and planning can best help dryland communities and their livestock to manage climate shocks.

This dialogue explored these issues and more to identify opportunities in this space.

In 2022, the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action and partners convened several virtual mini dialogues on priority topics related to the Observatory vision. The aim was to identify priority research, learning and other actions that the Observatory and a wider community of collaborators can tackle.

This dialogue on 5 October 2022 was championed by Guyo Roba (Jameel Observatory) and Julie Ojango (ILRI) and finalized by Nathan Jensen of the University of Edinburgh. 

Download a brief summarizing the mini-dialogue