Livestock and pastoralism

Livestock are essential for livelihoods in Africa, particularly in the drier, marginal pastoral areas. Yet development investments in the livestock sector have consistently failed. Over several decades, IDS research has challenged the assumptions of much conventional policy thinking. By making the case for a non-equilibrium approach to understanding range lands, for example, the opportunistic strategies of pastoralists can be recognised.

ETHIOPIA Somali Region. Female herder walking in the desert with her goats. The region has suffered overgrazing during the drought, and the soil has become unstable. 
Credit: Dieter Telemans / Panos

Living in the drylands means living with uncertainty, and standardised,blueprint approaches to development can never work. Recognising dynamic ecological systems means rethinking the principles of livestock and range management, as well as approaches to animal health and veterinary disease control. Uncertain environments also require new thinking for planning and policy processes and systems for tenure, marketing and administration.

Photo credit: Dieter Telemans / Panos

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA)

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) is a five-year, DFID-funded, research programme consortium which aims to produce new evidence and policy insights into different pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa and their differential outcomes for local people and economies. More details

Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium

A STEPS-led consortium of researchers aiming to advance understanding of the connections between disease and environment in Africa, focusing on animal-to-human disease transmission.. More details

Future Agricultures Consortium

The DFID funded Future Agricultures Consortium is an Africa-based alliance of research organisations seeking to provide timely, high-quality and independent information and advice to improve agricultural policy and practice in Africa. More details

Impact Evaluation of the PSNP and HAPB 2012

Since 2003, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has been implementing a new Food Security Programme (FSP). In 2009, this programme was reviewed and reformulated. More details

Livestock, Livelihoods and Health

Livestock, Livelihoods and Health is an interdisciplinary research programme exploring diseases that can be transmitted from wild or domesticated animals to people (known as zoonoses). More details

Myanmar Pig Partnership

The Myanmar Pig Partnership is focusing on the risks of zoonotic disease emergence associated with the rapid growth and intensification of livestock production in Myanmar in recent years. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

Veterinary Science, Transboundary Animal Diseases and Markets

Focusing on the case of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in southern Africa – and specifically Botswana, Nambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – this research is exploring the economic, social and political trade-offs arising from disease control strategies geared towards promoting commercial beef exports and achieving a ‘livestock revolution’. More details

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Addressing Climate Change Uncertainty in Dryland Kachchh, India

IDS Policy Briefing 147 (2018)

The semi-arid district of Kachchh in Gujarat, India is known for its erratic rainfall, water scarcity, and droughts. Climate change has intensified extreme temperature and rainfall patterns and also led to changes to the long coastline. More details


Improving the Impact of Climate Information Services in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands

IDS Policy Briefing 145 (2017)

Climate variability and change are affecting millions of poor people in Kenya, particularly in arid and semi-arid lands. Significant investments are being made in developing Climate Information Services (CIS) which are tailored to the needs of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists and aim to help them adapt to the impact of climate change in these regions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Futures of Pastoralism in the Horn of Africa: Pathways of Growth and Change

Revue Scientifique et Technique 35.2 (2016)

This paper reviews pastoralism in the Horn of Africa region with reference to the basic socio-economics of pastoralism, and the use of mobile livestock production to generate income and food for human consumption. The paper also examines long-term trends in pastoralist areas which, at first sight, appear to be contradictory. More details


The Evolution of Collective Land Tenure Regimes in Pastoralist Societies: Lessons from Andean Countries

IDS Working Paper 480 (2016)

Much has been said about the importance of pastoralist livelihoods for the effective and sustainable use of drylands around the world. Yet, pastoralist societies are experiencing more pressures to their way of life than ever before. More details

This is the cover for our Rapid Response Briefings

Zoonoses - From Panic to Planning

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 2 (2013)

Over two thirds of all human infectious diseases have their origins in animals. The rate at which these zoonotic diseases have appeared in people has increased over the past 40 years, with at least 43 newly identified outbreaks since 2004. More details

This is the image for the book, 'Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins'.

Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins

This book argues that, while we should not ignore the profound difficulties of creating secure livelihoods in the Greater Horn of Africa, there is much to be learned from development successes, large and small. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Better Marginalised than Incorporated? Pastoralist Livelihoods in Somali Region, Ethiopia

European Journal of Development Research 22 (2010)

Based on fieldwork in Somali Region in 2005, this article argues that ‘living on the margins’ – excluded by and beyond the reach of the state, yet resisting incorporation – is the source of both pastoralist wealth and pastoralist vulnerability. More details

IDS Working Paper

Raising Voice: Securing a Livelihood: The Role of Diverse Voices in Developing Secure Livelihoods in Pastoralist Areas in Ethiopia

IDS Working Paper 340 (2010)

This paper is concerned with the workings of voice among pastoralists in Ethiopia. It documents how diverse pastoralist men and women - young and old, rich and poor - call on one another and on representatives and officials in efforts to achieve cooperation and influence. More details

IDS Research Summary

Raising Voice: Securing a Livelihood: The Role of Diverse Voices in Developing Secure Livelihoods in Pastoralist Areas in Ethiopia

IDS Research Summary of IDS Working Paper 340 (2010)

‘Because of our poverty we are not able to speak. If you have property you have power. If you have power you can talk or voice for yourself. The ones with power talk to each other.’ (elderly Ethiopian pastoralist woman). What are the implications for development practice? More details

This is the cover of Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza: Science, Policy and Politics

Over the past decade, substantial resources have been spent on tackling avian influenza and building a global capacity for a pandemic response. The catastrophic costs of the 1918 influenza pandemic are well documented, and the swine flu pandemic of 2009-10 has raised the alarm yet again. More details

Non-IDS publication

Raising Voice - Securing a Livelihood: Summary Paper

This full-colour summary paper of the recent study into pastoralist livelihoods in Ethiopia discusses the role of diverse voices in developing secure livelihoods in pastoralist areas of Ethiopia. More details

this is the cover of the new book Farmer First Revisited

Farmer First Revisited: Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development

"Farmer First Revisited is a powerful testament to the impact the Farmer First approach to agricultural research and development has had and continues to have in the twenty years since the first volume on this topic was published." More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Dynamics of Real Markets: Cattle in Southern Zimbabwe following Land Reform

Development and Change 39.4 (2008)

Since 2000 there have been major changes in the agrarian economy in Zimbabwe. Extensive land redistribution and severe macro-economic instability have resulted in significant shifts in agricultural production and the functioning of markets, opening opportunities for some and closing options for others. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The International Response to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza: Science, Policy and Politics

STEPS Working Paper 10 (2008)

Over the last decade, the avian influenza virus, H5N1, has spread across most of Asia and Europe and parts of Africa. More details

IDS publications on international development research

A short overview of regional positions on foot-and-mouth disease control in southern Africa

Transboundary animal disease and market access Working Paper 2 (2008)
IDS publications on international development research

Veterinary science, transboundary animal diseases and markets: pathways for policy in Namibia

Transboundary animal disease and market access: future options for the beef industry in southern Africa Working Paper 4 (2008)
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