Six years ago, I facilitated an inter-agency team that traveled through East Africa for 18 months meeting with pastoralists and governments to get first hand awareness of best practices to mitigate the impact of climate change on pastoralism in the region. We traveled through northeast Kenya meeting with pastoralists in Turkana, Samburu, Pokot, Boran, Somali, Gabra, Burji, Rendille and Garre. I spent a week in Uganda’s Karamoja region hosted by pastoralists communities. I spent days with pastoralists in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro, and two weeks in Ethiopia’s South Omo.
Overall, I was privileged to have spent months with one of the most resourceful livelihood group in the region. The outcome of the 18 months fed into the development of the AUC Framework on Pastoralism.
Pastoralists traditionally move from one area to another in search of pasture and in search of water for their livestock. They move with their livestock in response to drought, so every time there is climatic stress – which manifests itself in failure of the rains – pastoralists traditionally migrate, following the rains. With the increasing frequency and severity of the droughts due to climate change, pastoralists’ land can no longer sustain them and people are being forced to migrate internally and across borders.
Pastoral production systems often face difficulties with state borders as they move in search of pasture and water for livestock, which was historically divided without consideration of pastoralist needs and access/ownership. Movement sometimes extends beyond multiple sovereign borders. While there is the existence of Joint Border Commissions, what is clear is that there are no provisions for a normative regional framework or mechanisms to address migratory patterns and traditional corridors.
An outcome of the 18 months of consultations was the development of the Security in Mobility campaign. Working in partnership and in consultation with pastoralists across the Horn of Africa, `Security in Mobility'; an inter-agency advocacy collaboration between the United Nations’ office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Environmental Programme, International Organization of Migration and the Institute for the Security Studies advocated for appropriate and comprehensive response strategies to reduce the risk – (conflict, displacement) associated to pastoralists’ livelihood activities in particular around pastoralist cross-border movement for access to pasture and water depleted by climate change. For the Horn of Africa, this climate change impact is manifested in the increase in frequency and protracted drought in the region. The `Security in Mobility' campaign
• Promoted pastoralists internal and cross-border mobility needs as a climate change adaptation strategy.
• Advocated for regional cross-border security need to be reconciled with pastoralists' livelihood needs including cross-border mobility for access to water and pasture.
Today many of these pastoralists continue to reach out and update me on achievement on the journey to facilitate a sustainable form of pastoralism in the continent. It is great to note that IGAD member states’ recent call for the establishment of a Pastoral Land Governance Platform is increasingly making security in mobility a reality for pastoralists in the region. https://igad.int/divisions/agriculture-and-environment/1809-igad-member-states-call-for-the-establishment-of-a-pastoral-land-governance-platform