text size: smaller reset larger

 

 
  • Home
  • Developments
  • Livestock policy hubs: getting to the core of livestock keeping in East Africa

Livestock policy hubs: getting to the core of livestock keeping in East Africa

Livestock policies do not always benefit the poor (© ILRI/Steve Mann)
Livestock policies do not always benefit the poor
© ILRI/Steve Mann

"Policies designed to increase livestock production do not necessarily benefit poor livestock keepers who prioritize survival rather than production," warns Dr. Simplice Nouala, chief animal production officer at the African Union's Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR). Dr. Nouala was speaking to donors having recently published a working paper in collaboration with the IGAD Livestock Policy Initiative, showing that while livestock policies are successfully supporting those who are able to increase production and market their surplus livestock products, they are failing those further down the livestock chain.

Livestock provide food and income; they are a means of saving, of accessing cash and of reducing vulnerability to risks. "If we want to fully exploit the potential of livestock, we need policies that respond to all the services that livestock provide," Nouala said. The implication of his work, that in order to devise policies that address poverty through livestock, policymakers will first need to understand how poor women and men are using livestock to escape poverty, is one that is increasingly gaining acceptance in East Africa, through the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, IGAD.

While the region's livestock sector has been steadily growing at a rate of about four percent a year since the mid 1990's, poverty rates among those who depend on livestock seems to be getting worse. In response, IGAD established a Livestock Policy Initiative (LPI) in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. "The project's main objective has been to put the capacities in place to develop livestock related policies that actually reduce poverty," explains Abebe Demissie, communications officer at IGAD-LPI.

Key to the initiative

Issues of grazing, water and land management can be raised through the IGAD-LPI policy hubs (© FAO/Tony Karumba)
Issues of grazing, water and land management can be raised through the IGAD-LPI policy hubs
© FAO/Tony Karumba

A key aspect of the initiative is to improve the voice of poorer livestock keepers and women as policies are developed. "We have teams in each country, including around 40 people from different government sectors, the private sector, livestock keepers, community-based organizations and NGOs, who make up a 'policy hub'," says Demissie. "Representation at all levels is a key element of the project model. It has not always been easy, however. We are still working to increase the participation of grass roots organizations and of women in most countries."

"Making the policy process more inclusive has already produced some dramatic shifts in the focus of policy and many of our partners now look at livestock development in a very different light," comments Dil Peeling, chief technical adviser to the project. "An appreciation of the importance of all the services that livestock provide, particularly to the poor, is one example. But it has also become evident that much of what determines the success of livestock keepers' livelihoods depends on factors that lie beyond a ministry of livestock's remit. Bringing various government sectors together to work with livestock keepers has brought issues of access to grazing, water, or environmental management to the fore. We've been able to identify issues that have to be addressed regionally, and facilitated agreement of a regional policy framework among IGAD member states. And we are starting to see recognition across government of the case for providing more resources to support what has always been a marginalised sector."

Raising the profile of livestock

A key aspect of the initiative is to improve the voice of poorer livestock keepers and women as policies are developed (© ILRI/Steve Mann)
A key aspect of the initiative is to improve the voice of poorer livestock keepers and women as policies are developed
© ILRI/Steve Mann

Referring again to Dr. Nouala's paper, which challenged the dominance of production and animal health policies, Demissie points out that one reason why markets and production have dominated livestock policy is that their benefits are clearly measurable in terms of revenue, whereas setting a value on, for instance, social capital requires a different approach. "We have been attempting to redress this by recalculating the contribution of livestock to national economies," he says. Results from Ethiopia, for instance, indicate that whereas the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had assigned a value of 32 billion Ethiopian Birr to livestock production in 2008-2009, the other services that livestock provided to support livelihoods, particularly those of the poor and women, were worth approximately twice as much.

"For the 43 million poor livestock keepers in the IGAD region, livestock are not, first and foremost, an agricultural commodity. They are a motorbike, a bank account, an insurance policy that allow the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps," Peeling adds. "And, to the credit of our colleagues in the region's governments, they are now taking practical steps to develop a new generation of policies, to institutionalize participatory and evidence based processes and to use the improved understanding of livestock's worth to push for more appropriate government resources. Meanwhile, we are working with AU-IBAR to apply these lessons at a pan-African level."

Date published: August 2011

  • Home
  • Developments
  • Livestock policy hubs: getting to the core of livestock keeping in East Africa
 

Have your say

This article underpins the impotence of pro-poor livestock p... (posted by: Abebe)

 

The New Agriculturist is a WRENmedia production.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.
Accept
Read more