Development among Africa's Migratory Pastoralists

Development among Africa's Migratory Pastoralists

Development among Africa's Migratory Pastoralists

Development among Africa's Migratory Pastoralists

Synopsis

Beginning with the Sahelian drought of the 1970s, through the complex succession of catastrophes in Ethiopia, and continuing tragedies of Somalia and the Southern Sudan, the plights of Africa's more than 30 million migratory pastoralists receive bursts of international television coverage and emergency aid, yet the underlying problems within their largely marginal lands remain unresolved. Virtually all past approaches and specific attempts at development among them have failed. A prominent problem has been inabilities of involved persons within diverse disciplines to communicate effectively with one another and to cooperate. In addressing this continent-wide problem, the authors adopt a practical approach and provide sufficient detail to illustrate its likelihood to achieve positive results within the severe constraints of available resources and other current realities. They propose, for the first time, meaningful and realistic possibilities for bettering the lives of these numerous peoples in ways they themselves would desire.

Excerpt

Beginning with the Sahelian drought of the 1970s, plights of Africa's migratory pastoralists have received occasional saturation-type television and other press coverage. But resulting short-term outpourings of global concern and emergency aid have done almost nothing to help better their ordinarily difficult lots in life. Development within pastoral Africa remains essentially a "non- starter." Should outside pressures upon these tens of millions of people, especially ones new to their experiences, continue unabated, their fates might well resemble those of Native Americans and Australia's aborigines.

We believe that their lives could be improved--and the welfare of nations of which they are at least nominally parts could also benefit--without large- scale initiatives that African (and donor) nations seem unable to afford. We think practical measures must begin where things are locally and then proceed in whatever modest ways appear most evident. That approach requires ascertaining first who is doing anything useful right now. That applies not only to existing branches of government and resident nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), but especially to traditional pastoralist institutions. in our view, an extreme paucity of available resources requires the maximum flexibility locally if the aim is to achieve meaningful results. the steps we propose are based on our joint perceptions of present realities and the opportunities they suggest for sustainable improvements in pastoralists' circumstances.

In many respects our "bottom up" approach inverts the "top down" approach taken in many planning documents, including the valuable continent- wide overview of animal agriculture in Africa provided recently by a Winrock International advisory committee chaired by William R. Pritchard. Their appraisal concentrates mostly upon mixed plant-animal smallholder systems, devoting relatively less attention to extensive pastoralists. But that assessment . . .

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