Scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a key partner in the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Programme (CCAFS), are studying the impacts of climate change on pastoral communities, focussing on the 50 or so million livestock herders who are spread across the rangelands of Africa.
ILRI's new film Heat, Rain and Livestock: Impacts of Climate Change on Africa's Livestock Herders, asks how scientific research could help Africa's 50 million livestock herders adapt to a progressive change in climate.
Although herders have always adapted to variable weather, the forecasted long term changes may be more severe, and require innovative approaches to adaptation.
The challenge is how to support adaptation without completely undermining traditional pastoral livelihoods. ILRI researchers have looked at a number of options that help balance the tradeoffs, including index-based livestock insurance, based on satellite imagery; cross-breeding disease-resistant sheep with more profitable exotic sheep; and shifting from grazers (like cattle and sheep), to browsers (like camels and goats), as well as to alternative sources of income such as aquaculture.