23, September, 2016

Policy Options for Sustaining Productive Pastoral Systems

This brief explores how urbanisation, large public investments and agriculture have put pressure on pastoralist systems in East Africa, with a focus on the case of Kenya, proposing new policies to improve the sustainability of pastoralists’ production systems.

Pastoral communities in East Africa are found in areas characterized by arid and semi-arid conditions such as low rainfall and high temperatures. Therefore, these areas are suitable for extensive livestock production systems, and are predominantly under collective land tenure regimes. Pastoral communities have continued to use customary laws in management of land under collective access with mixed results. Expanding urbanization, large public investments and potential to change use of land have negatively affected collective land tenure regimes, and hence the sustainability of pastoral systems. Enactment of policies that recognize customary laws, strengthen community mechanisms to enforce land rights and ensure fairness in use of land and resources derived from land will help communities in the maintenance of collective land access regimes, thereby improving the sustainability of pastoralists’ production systems.

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Key Lessons:

  • To help enforce customary rights used in the management of community land, we recommend inclusion of customary laws in the legal framework
  • Pastoral communities used customary norms to manage land even when it was privatised to group ranches. Mismanagement of land accessed collectively triggered individualization. There is need for strengthening of community mechanisms to manage land under collective tenure regimes such as providing semi-formal training and enforcing accountability procedures such as record keeping and holding of annual general meetings.
  • Most pastoral communities live in areas that are under-developed economically and socially. There is need for increased investments in and delivery of public goods in pastoral areas such as infrastructure, schools, hospital, livestock markets and veterinary services.

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