Download Now! Actions to Transform Food Systems under Climate Change

Pastoralism key in managing drought

Free livestock movements can help pastoralists cope with drought. Photo: P. Casier (CGIAR)
(view original)
Ago 29, 2011



According to a recent article in The New Agriculturist pastoralism is the best way to cope with drought. This statement is based on the findings from the report An Assessment of the response to the 2008-2009 drought in Kenya, produced by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Based on interviews with pastoralists the researchers found that the best way for them to cope with famine was to ensure that they had access to grazing and watering areas. Pastoralism was also viewed as the most productive use of drylands in the Horn of Africa and increased mobility of pastoralists could prevent future food crisis in these areas. In other words, by allowing pastoralists to move to other, unused grazing areas, they can more easily mitigate livestock losses during a drought. This is becoming increasingly problematic however, the report states, since mobility is being reduced and impeded. The report recommends that interventions targeting the removal of restrictions to mobility and access should be considered as prime activities during preparedness. To read more about the ILRI report please click here.

Pastoralism in a changing climate

The role of pastoralism in a changing climate will be further investigated in the upcoming documentary Pastoralist voices on Climate Change: Understanding Climate from the Ground up produced and directed by Joana Roque Depinho. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has co-funded the documentary set to be released in spring 2012. The foundation of the documentary is to show that climate change is a complicated, dynamic puzzle that can only be solved by the collective effort of all stakeholders, since neither scientists nor community members have all the answers. The documentary will show workshops held in Kenya between scientists and local land users, a collaboration that aims for the participants to learn from each other and exchange ideas that concern adaptation and mitigation to climate change for pastoralists and ongoing changes in the climate and the environment. Through this collaborative and participatory process the local land users can directly inform the scientific process and climate change science.

A trailer to the documentary has now been released which gives a glimpse into the workshops. The trailer highlights the wealth of knowledge that pastoralists have and the importance to give a voice to all stakeholders in the project. As participant and scientist Robin Reid from Colorado State University, USA, explains it in the trailer: We are "listening to people’s local experience to make sure that whatever we do in this project is completely grounded in what they think is important and what they want to do with their lives". Getting an understanding of climate change from the ground up is critical to knowing what can be done to mitigate or adapt to it.  

Please have look at the trailer for the upcoming documentary "Pastoralist voices on Climate Change: Understanding Climate from the Ground up":