Pastoralism is the key agricultural production system in the drylands and, as drylands constitute nearly half of the land area of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), pastoralism is of particular importance for the African continent. This notwithstanding, investment in pastoralist development has dropped over the last decades. This paper makes a case for increased policy attention to pastoralists in SSA.
The paper presents estimates of the numbers of agro-/pastoral populations globally, their livestock and their contribution to national economies as well as of the incidence of poverty. Out of the estimated 120 million agro-/pastoralists worldwide, 50 million live in SSA, mainly in West and East Africa, where they are estimated to produce around 33 and 41 percent of total ruminant meat respectively. Poverty incidence among pastoralists is high, ranging from 25 to 55 percent.
The author examines the causes and dynamics of poverty among pastoral populations in Africa drawing on the sustainable livelihoods framework with a focus on vulnerability to shocks. Traditional livelihood and risk-management strategies appear to be increasingly ineffective and pastoralists progressively more vulnerable to droughts, market exclusion, epidemics and violent conflicts, as well as being negatively affected by increasing human and livestock pressure on fragile drylands.
A five page executive summary is also available in addition to this paper.