POLICY, POLITICS & PROGRAMMES:Their Implications to Pastoralists in a Changing Context in East Africa
BY: Peter Ken Otieno
The changing political, policy and programmatic context
have created dynamics around the drylands of EA. The
resultant, changes in both pastoralism and pastoralists’
livelihood and systems.
This paper examines these issues through the following
The new paradigms and what they mean in terms of
economic and political trends in the EA drylands.
More progressive policy environment and institutions
Programmes that have focused more towards the
The implications of all these to pastoralists and
CONTEXT AND TRENDS
Pastoralism emerged almost about twelve or so millennia ago and almost
concurrently with agriculture. Pastoralism evolved as a response to two
Medium human population densities and the presence of extensive
rangelands, usually marginal lands unsuitable for rain-fed crop agriculture.
Pastoralism way of life consisted of herding domesticated or semidomesticated animals. It was necessary to move animals continually in search
of pasture and water. It was a wandering, nomadic way of life. Culturally,
therefore, pastoralism had more in common with hunter-and-gatherer way of
Due to widespread mobility, pastoral communities often came into contact
with sedentary agricultural communities, who on their part, due to their
increasing populations, increasingly encroached on the marginal pastoral land
that could be converted to agricultural production.
This marked the beginning of diminishing resource bases, production range,
increased vulnerability and substantial decline in pastoral household
economies. Conflicts and warfare emerged and sometime became common.
The need for “interventions” aimed at transforming pastoralism then started
springing up close to half a century ago.
THE NEW PARADIGMS IN EA: Implications to Pastoralists in a
rapidly changing Economic and political field
Economic and increased democratic space created over the past 10-15 years
have presented mixed opportunities for pastoralists and their resources.
More pastoralists are represented within the political leadership and other
relevant institutions including Parliament, cabinet positions, county and subcounty levels.
Pastoralists parliamentary groups at country and regional levels have been
Economically; the drylands of Eastern Africa have seen competing interest
by governments, multilateral corporations and pastoralists for
infrastructural development, herding as well as large investments. The
implications; diminishing resource bases, production range, increased
vulnerability and substantial decline in pastoral household economies.
The trend has then provided governments the opportunity of redefining and
transforming pastoralism through Policies, Politics and Programmes.
This paper seeks to discuss the issues from a reflective perspective including
new development initiatives in the region, political positioning by
pastoralists and changes that have occurred in the field of policy.
THE PROGRESSIVE POLICY ENVIRONMENT & INSTITUTIONS
Public policies defines the environment and determine
livelihoods and development prospects for pastoralism and
pastoralists-Good policies, positive prospects (and vice-versa)
Emerging policy context increasingly positive towards
pastoralism (ASALs Policy in Kenya, New Land policy Uganda,
LUPs and Const. TZ)
But are these changing policy contexts, new institutions and
more representation translating into tangible benefits?
Both opportunities and constraints facing pastoralism as a
livelihood system for the most part is a function of Policy, Politics
The influence of pastoralists in the national political arena is a key
factor in determining how concerns of pastoralists are treated by
national policies, programmes and institutions.
To Policy makers/Governments;
Governments are concerned about pastoralism possible
collapse, driving millions of people into destitution at huge cost
to national economies.
Collapse would also make pastoral areas more insecure, with
ramifications for political and economic stability.
Policies to settle pastoralists and introduce them to modern
cropping and livestock production, or to choose different
livelihoods, are thus once again on the agenda. (proposed a
million hectares of land for irrigation and the Karamoja
REFORMS PATH THAT LED TO ASAL POLICY: Kenyan Case
Kenya, 2010 with
PRSP – Pastoral
Strategy by Pastoral
Kenya Vision 2030
Kenya, 2010 with
LAND AND NATURAL
National Land Policy
6 POLICY TRENDS & THE ROLE OF POLITICS
1. Changing land tenure: The common property rights/regime promotes
communal use, access and management of resources by pastoralists
sustainably despite the vastness of their areas of land; is being undermined
by laws and policies that promote the individualization of land tenure.
2. Breakdown of traditional governance structures: Traditional pastoral
institutions enforce compliance with norms and values that dictate the
sustainable use of the drylands. Emphasis on formal governance structures
has weakened traditional institutions and reduced their capacity to help
manage crises like epidemics and drought.
3. Increasing demand for land: Crop farming is encroaching into the drylands.
There is also increasing interest in pastoral areas for biofuel production. The
absence of a comprehensive land use policy is encouraging unsustainable
production at odds with the pastoralist system.
4. Negative perceptions and stereotypes: Pastoralism is widely perceived as
an unsustainable, inefficient way of using land, which does little for the
economy and is environmentally destructive. Policy actions, institutions and
structures informed by these negative stereotypes facilitate the alienation
of pastoral resources and increase pastoral vulnerabilities.
5. Inadequate investment in the drylands: With limited market access,
pastoral areas experience high costs in doing business, lack
opportunities for income diversification and face unemployment and
6. Failure to recognize the diversity of pastoralist groups: Not all
pastoralists are at the same level of vulnerability. Some are well-off with
stable livelihoods. Others, once stable in pastoral production, today find
themselves in danger of losing their livelihoods. Current policy and
practice must accommodate these different categories of
pastoralists and their particular needs.
THE ENTRY POINT FOR RECONCILE
CSOS & DEVELOPMENT
Capacity and networking
Vertical horizontal engagement
Building local, national,
regional and global capacities
for policy development,
implementation , monitoring
Expectations of RECONCILE
1. Capacity developed to challenge
outside perceptions of pastoralism.
2. Capacity to understand and contribute
to policy processes at all levels
3. Capacity to represent & be accountable
to members’ interests
1. Institutions that have the financial
autonomy able to engage and negotiate
2. Accountable and champion for local
interests and develop partnership with
Sustainable use and management of
the drylands and resources therein
Relevant and effective policies and
Strong, vibrant, representative
pastoral CSO & movements able to
define & implement members’
vision of development
Long-term programme with the community with focus on
strengthening the economic development of the arid and
semi-arid areas—recognising mobile pastoralism as a
production system with high comparative advantage—in the
framework of the programmes for food security, climate
change, can only be realized through political will in the
Effective strategies by different actors to engage national &
regional institutions, process & programmes
demonstrated through policy research analysis.
Investments in dryland should pay due attention to the
political dynamics and how rural development and food
production secures rights of pastoralists.