Assessing the Political Feasibility of Policy Reform in the Horn of Africa

Professorial Fellow David Leonard has headed a team of graduate students investigating the political feasibility of pro-poor changes in livestock policy in the seven countries in the greater Horn of Africa.

On behalf of the Livestock Policy Initiative of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD-LPI) and the Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO-PPLPI), the team has probed the ways in which local political organisation, interest group power, and institutional proclivities and capacities shape the reform initiatives that are most likely to be successful.

Of course politicians, bureaucrats and donors always have made political calculations implicitly in choosing where to put their energies. But this set of studies is distinctive because, by being open, it has been possible to apply the best tools of political science to the task and to include a wider range of actors in informed deliberations on strategic choices about reform priorities.


The project explored recommended policy options for each IGAD country and then consolidated them into a set of issues and options which were considered by the IGAD-LPI Steering Committee on 4 July 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Steering Committee minuted in response, that it:

‘recommends that the [LPI] project take a regional approach to issues that are common to the IGAD members states. The Steering Committee recommends as a focus [the] regulation of markets for livestock and livestock products and the delivery of animal health services, particularly in but not limited to pastoral areas, [in order] to enable the livestock industry to comply with regulations in national, regional and selected international markets.’

In reaching this decision the Committee easily agreed that it needed to work on issues that promised a high likelihood of success within the next three years. It also quickly decided to focus on regional approaches to common national problems.

The Committee felt that the the issues associated with livestock trade into the Middle East were fraught with inter-country conflicts, already had attracted a number of other initiatives, and posed substantial diplomatic hurdles. The Committee did acknowledge that the Middle East trade provides much of the motivation for policy reform in a number of the IGAD-region political authorities and therefore cannot be wholly ignored. It was felt, however, that it was better to approach these matters as a part of a broader concern with livestock trade at the national and intra-regional levels and to focus on changing national policies through regional technical forums. Seeking formal regional agreements through the diplomatic process is far too difficult at the moment and therefore risky for an infant project such as the LPI.

It was felt that the difficulties associated with land tenure and water rights policies, although common to most IGAD countries, are too politically sensitive and too country-specific in their dimensions to lend themselves to a regional approach – or to quick success. Much more promising are the challenges of rebuilding the capacities for disease surveillance and control necessary to international trade. Particularly for the pastoral areas this priority coincides with the still incomplete restructuring of veterinary services. A great deal of progress has been made throughout the Horn in advancing the concept of Community Animal Health Assistants for pastoralists but its institutionalization is not complete and the scheme will need some further modification if a public responsibility for disease control are to join private curative treatment in the duties of this cadre.

The Committee noted, however, that the motive force for reform in disease surveillance and animal health more generally is trade. It therefore was concluded that veterinary services should be addressed within the context of improving the regulatory environment for livestock trade – helping countries to meet appropriate Sanitary and PhyloSanitary standards and to negotiate changes in regulations that are unnecessarily complicated or restrictive.

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Project details

start date
1 May 2006
end date
31 July 2007


About this project

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