Expert Group Meeting on New Fringe Pastoralism (NFP) Development, Conflict and Insecurity in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel
Thursday, August 25, 2016 to Saturday, August 27, 2016
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The general perception that pastoralists are isolated communities living wholly or partially on livestock and livestock products is gradually eroding. On the contrary, pastoralist are increasingly integrating modern activities ,new livelihoods and occupational patterns, with large segments of the pastoral communities practicing what is now referred to as urban pastoralism. While the traditional pastoral way of life and career patterns have been influenced by modernization, penetration of the market economy and commercialization, one aspect of pastoral life has persisted, that is mobility is search of water and grazing lands. In the context of globalization and economic interdependence, their mobility has been enhanced through increased demand for their products (organic meat, milk and milk products and hides to mention but a few).

Pastoralists roam close to 40 percent of Africa’s total land mass and contribute between 10 and 44 percent of the GDP of African countries. An estimated 1.3 billion people benefit from livestock value chain, according to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI: 2013). With about 5 percent of the total population of some African countries being pastoralists, in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, this figure rises to between 10 to 20 percent of the total population of some countries. It is estimated that pastoralists contribute about 90 percent of the meat consumed in East Africa and close to 60 percent of the meat and milk products consumed in western countries. 

However, pastoralists and pastoral areas generally have at least six common challenges: 

  1. Despite their contribution to the national economy and food security, the majority of pastoralists are poor and a large percentage live as destitute,  in shanti towns and squatter settlements throughout the Horn of Africa and the Sahel;
  2. Pastoral areas are amongst the most underdeveloped in Africa and fare worse in terms of social amenities, health services, education and the provision of clean drinking water;
  3. Climatic uncertainty, fluctuations and unpredictably, and variation in  precipitation make the pastoral areas harsh to live in and very uncertain in term herd security and vulnerability to recurrent drought and famine;
  4. With the increasing demands of modern life and climate change, pastoralists have become increasingly desperate to engage in illicit and of course legal activities in order to make a living;
  5. Due to their mobility and the remoteness of their areas from the authority of government, pastoralists are increasingly implicated in the operations of transnational jihadist and religious extremist groups, with serious negative implications not only for their safety, but also for the national economies of their countries; and
  6. The majority of current African conflicts such as in Central African Republic, Chad, North Eastern Kenya; Somalia, Sudan, Mali etc., with the exception of the Great Lakes, involve pastoralists. The strained relationship between pastoralists and the state poses serious economic and political security for the countries of the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.

This background highlights two tensions between the promising economic opportunities that await African pastoralists and the prominence of conflicts between pastoralists and pastoralists, pastoralists and agriculturalists, and pastoralists and the state. Together these characteristics point to the emergence of new pastoralists who have on one hand retained certain residues of old pastoralism, while on the other hand have entered into new activities and livelihood patterns. These new pastoral characteristics oscillate between integration into a globalized market economy and involvement in extreme violence from within and transnationally. In both cases pastoralists have reinvented and made use of centuries tested capabilities shaped by geographic mobility and separation from the authority of the modern state.

As part of the mandate of ECA, the Capacity Development Division (CDD) has been tasked with providing focused and coherent capacity development support to strengthen the capabilities of member states and pan-African institutions to achieve their development goals. In line with this mandate, and based on the demands of its main stakeholders, ECA has conducted a study on the socio-economic impact of violence and illicit economic activities in pastoral communities, which is undermining their development efforts as well as ongoing efforts towards the transformation of the continent.  The study has documented the socio-economic impact of conflicts of pastoral societies in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel and investigated the root causes of the strained relationship between the state and pastoral societies. In this regard, ECA will be hosting an Expert Group Meeting on NEW FRINGE PASTORALISM (NFP) Development, Conflict and Insecurity in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel from 25 to 27 August 2016, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The overall objective of the expert group meeting is to review the draft report, improve its quality and contribute to the academic and policy debate on the emergent patterns of “new fringe pastoralism” in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. More specifically, the workshop aims to:

  1. Provide new knowledge and insights on the current shift in pastoral development/transformation in response to conflict and climate change development and security implications of “New Fringe Pastoralism”;
  2. Establish Sahelian/Horn of Africa Serve network focusing on the socio-economic and political impacts and security impacts of “new fringe pastoralism”’
  3. Exchange county and cross-country experiences pastoral development policies, implementation and outcomes; and
  4. Deliberate on how to use the knowledge generated from the research for developing capacity strengthening activities pertaining to peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction.

The meetings expected outcomes are:

  • Feedback to improve quality and accuracy of the study;
  • Outline knowledge sharing and delivery process to policy makers; and
  • Develop concrete guidelines to initiate national level capacity building activities and to sensitize policy makers on the current state of pastoral-state relations.

The Expert Group meeting will bring together multiple stakeholders, including high-level policy makers from selected countries and senior experts, representative of pastoralists networks and organizations to discuss the current developments in the pastoral areas. The stakeholders are expected to exchange experiences and provide succinct feedback on the study in order to ensure that the report carries an authoritative understanding of the key factors propelling conflicts and the emergent pastoral development/livelihood patterns.


Programme of Work