Pastoralism less impacted by climate change than industrial farming

A new book that challenges those who see drylands agriculture and livestock systems as inherently vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty will be discussed at a launch on Wednesday, 23 September at the European Commission's Infopoint.
Press release, 25 September 2015

Entitled 'Valuing variability – new perspectives on climate resilient drylands development', the publication provides fresh perspectives on the value of dryland production systems from across Asia and Africa. These will be discussed at the launch event hosted by the Coalition of European Lobbies for Eastern African Pastoralism (CELEP).  

The book, published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and launched in the Kenyan parliament earlier this year, argues that improved agricultural productivity in drylands environments is possible by working with climatic uncertainty rather than seeking to control it – a view that runs contrary to decades of development practices. 

Quick facts

This approach means that pastoralism is a significant boost to the economy in East Africa: 

  • In Uganda the livestock sector contributes 7.5 per cent to total GDP and 17 per cent to agricultural GDP. Pastoralists own up to 90 per cent of the national herd, providing meat, hides, skin and milk for domestic and international markets
  • In Ethiopia, pastoralists and agro pastoralists produce 14 per cent of cattle meat, 12 per cent of goat meat and 7 per cent of sheep meat (lamb), and leather exports provide 12 per cent of national export earnings
  • In Tanzania, approximately 1.18 billion litres of milk is produced, of which 70 per cent comes from the agro-pastoral and pastoral systems, and
  • In Kenya, the total annual marketed value of pastoralist’s livestock can range from €50 million to €80 million.

The team behind the book hope that by sharing examples of how different communities undertake agricultural production that embrace climatic variability, drylands economies may yet reach their true potential. 

European members of parliament Norbert Neuser (S&D) and Maria Heubuch (Greens/EFA) also have met with the book's author, Saverio Krätli, prior to a fact-finding trip to Uganda in support of CELEP's aims, in October.


Koen Van Troos, CELEP Education and Policy Coordinator said: "Pastoral production complements, and cannot be substituted by, intensive livestock production. Many people who undertake drylands farming know how to live and work with climate change, recognising variability as part of the landscape they work in.

"Following this EU event exploring the strengths of the drylands at a time when climate change is bringing more uncertainty to the world’s farming systems, it is hoped that we will be able to progress the EC's technical note on pastoralism with DEVCO at CELEP's annual meeting in November. We certainly believe this would be a timely show of support for practical policy solutions, just before we enter the Paris climate change negotiations."


Speaker at the launch event will include:

  • Bernard Rey, deputy head of unit DEVCO C1, Rural Development, Food Security, Nutrition Presentation 
  • Koen Van Troos, education and policy coordinator CELEP
  • Saverio Krätli, lead author of the book and editor of Nomadic Peoples


For more information, interviewees and images, contact:

Koen Van Troos, CELEP – email: [email protected] or tel: +32474886813
Katharine Mansell, IIED – email: [email protected] or tel: +44 (0)20 3463 7399

Notes to editors

The publication of the book 'Valuing variability – new perspectives on climate resilient drylands development' and its associated research has been generously funded by the Ford Foundation. The launch was presided over by Hon. Ekwee Ethuro the speaker of the Kenyan Senate, in Nairobi on 29 April, 2015 

The Coalition of European Lobbies on Eastern African Pastoralism (CELEP) is an informal advocacy coalition of European organisations, groups and experts working in partnership with pastoralist organisations, groups and experts in Eastern Africa. The members of the coalition work together to lobby their national governments and EU bodies to explicitly recognise and support pastoralism (and the people that practise pastoralism: pastoralists) in the drylands of Eastern Africa.

IIED is a policy and action research organisation promoting sustainable development and linking local priorities to global challenges. We are based in London and work on five continents with some of the world’s most vulnerable people to strengthen their voice in the decision-making arenas that affect them.

For more information or to request an interview, contact Simon Cullen: 
+44 7503 643332 or [email protected]