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Protecting pastoralists and ending food insecurity


Faced with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, food security and livelihoods in Africa can be improved by using climate-smart methods to promote crop and livestock production.

Global food production needs to increase by 60% by 2050 (FAO estimates) in order to meet the demands of the world’s growing population. CTA director Michael Hailu argues that most of this food must come from existing farmland, “at a time when many farmers are already beginning to experience the impact of climate change.” This point is made in a CTA publication on climate-smart farming – an approach that is being promoted as a way of reducing continental food insecurity and improving resilience amongst crop farmers and pastoralists.

CTA’s Promoting climate-smart farming in sub-Saharan Africa: Stories from the field emphasises the transformative potential of climate-smart farming techniques to mitigate against the effects of climate change. The techniques include planting drought-resilient seeds and climate-proofing pastoralism in eastern Africa, where unpredictable weather patterns currently threaten 20 million livestock keepers. These difficult conditions can be addressed by providing livestock farmers with insurance for their animals and creating business linkages between pastoralists and end-buyers. This increases farmer resilience to droughts but also improves their livelihoods, which makes them more economically secure when climate shocks occur.

The vulnerability of pastoralists is further explored in the FAO publication, Pastoralism in Africa’s drylands: Reducing risks, addressing vulnerability and enhancing resilience. Displacement, livestock disease and climate change are all covered in this book, which also looks at ways in which resilience amongst livestock keepers can be increased. Suggestions for the latter include livelihood resilience programmes, which aim to improve animal feed supplies by utilising agricultural by-products such as bagasse or hay.

A country-specific example of enhancing climate change resilience amongst dairy producing pastoralists is provided in another new CTA publication, Rebounding from the brink of extinction: Commercial production of milk amongst pastoralists for climate change resilience in Uganda. This book focuses on a case study from Uganda’s south-west and central regions and highlights other climate-smart farming techniques, such as improved rangeland management. This strategy involves avoiding over-grazing as well as building dams to ensure adequate food and water are available to livestock, year-round. The climate-smart techniques featured in this publication are the result of government resilience-building programmes that were first initiated in the 1980s. This governmental support has endured and now helps Ugandan pastoralist communities that are close to “the brink” to thrive, even under changing climatic conditions. To enhance the implementation of climate-smart farming strategies across the continent, other African governments should look to provide similar levels of support.

Promoting climate-smart farming in Sub-Saharan Africa: Stories from the field
By C Pye-Smith
CTA, 2018; 24 pp.
ISBN 978-92-9081-646-1

Pastoralism in Africa’s drylands: Reducing risks, addressing vulnerability and enhancing resilience
FAO, 2018; 52 pp.
ISBN 978-92-5130-898-1

Rebounding from the brink of extinction: Commercial production of milk amongst pastoralists for climate change resilience in Uganda
By E Niemi & J Manyindo
CTA, 2018; 40 pp.

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