Advocating for policies and laws that support adaptive management

The drylands need a new policy narrative — one based on good understanding of dryland ecology and economics, and one that aims for more equitable outcomes for the people who live there.

Ploughing with cattle in Andhra Pradesh, India.

New perspectives on climate resilient drylands development

Drylands policy in Africa and Asia usually tries to resolve perceived problems, bringing productivity, order and stability to what policymakers mistakenly see as marginal, disorganised and unstable environments. Drylands do have their problems, but these are often caused more by applying poor policies than by drylands' low, erratic and variable rainfall. The dryness is not the problem – it is how policy accommodates it.

With our partners, we are managing a programme that aims to provide a new perspective on the drylands. It pulls together evidence to show that, with supportive policies, drylands are sustainable and highly productive ecosystems where pastoralists manage uncertainty and maximise productivity.

IIED, in partnership with the University of Peking, the Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network and Rainfed Livestock Network (both in India), and Kenya’s Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid lands, is implementing a 1-year research project entitled New perspectives on climate resilient drylands development (May 2012 – April 2013).

Funded by the Ford Foundation, the project is researching the assumptions, arguments and evidence national governments and global institutions use to support drylands policy. The findings will include:

  • analyses of policies in China, India and Kenya;
  • a study of media coverage;
  • a position paper and
  • a series of policy briefs.

These will help design a more progressive framework based on both sound scientific evidence and local experience.

Find out more

Read the series of policy briefs:

Read a Workshop Report reviewing the research findings and identify the key components of an overarching narrative and set of arguments to articulate a new perspective of climate resilient drylands development.

Read the first opinion paper from the project: Ecology, equity and economics: reframing dryland policy.

Read Mike Shanhan’s blog articles on this topic:

Read 'Valuing variability: new perspectives on climate-resilient drylands development', a publication launched by the Kenyan National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG) in April 2015.

For more information, contact: Ced Hesse (

Coalition of European Lobbies in support of East African Pastoralism

IIED uses its membership of the Coalition of European Lobbies in support of East African Pastoralism (CELEP) to support advocacy work. The CELEP develops briefing papers and participates in key consultations with the European Parliament, the European Commission and other European or global institutions (e.g. Food and Agricultural Organisation). CELEP’s aim is to:

  • raise awareness and understanding of pastoral issues in eastern Africa, and
  • influence policy making in Europe to recognise and support Eastern African pastoralism as a sustainable viable livelihood system.