Pastoralism: the hidden story of development in the Horn of Africa

Our new book Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins explores the hidden story of pastoralism in the Horn of Africa. The latest volume in our Pathways to Sustainability book series, it contains 20 chapters on empirical research on the current state of pastoralism; it is edited by Andy Catley, Jeremy Lind and Ian Scoones.

Katherine Homewood is professor of Human Ecology at UCL. She has written a review of the book and has allowed us to reproduce it in full here.

Pastoralism and Development in Africa drives home the tremendous scale and pace of change in northeast African pastoralism. It has its finger spot on the pulse, tracking unfolding events up to the weeks and months before publication, and grounded in authoritative knowledge of general context as well as incisive analysis of social and historical particularities. The subject matter spans resources and production, commercialisation and markets, land and conflict, established and emerging alternative livelihoods. Chapters range from overviews by internationally renowned ‘elder statesmen’ social scientists (African and other), through to new voices from a rising generation of young African researchers and development practitioners, ably expounding the issues facing the pastoralist societies from which they themselves come, within which and for which they work.

The book brings alive the way this seemingly remote and notoriously volatile region, with its rapid and violent shifts in socio-political and biophysical environments, connects at all levels with national and international arenas, policies and economic flows. It traces the multiple and divergent directions of pastoralist enterprise, the risks run and opportunities seized, the striking innovations developed alongside robust, tried and tested strategies being maintained, and the successful diversification for some as against spiralling impoverishment for others. The book conveys the vigour, dynamism and adaptability of these arid and semi arid land populations, and their ability to embrace and exploit change, in a context of policies that too often constrain rather than enable.

The editors’ fast-paced, highly charged first chapter is a must-read, as are the thought provoking chapters on irrigation (Sandford, Behnke and Kerven); and the entire, forceful, incisive section on land grab (Galaty, Nunow, Letai and Lind, Babiker etc). The alternative livelihoods chapters range from state of knowledge overview (eg. Livingstone and Ruhindi on women and economic diversification) to real eye-openers on emerging possibilities (eg. education: Siele, Swift and Krätli). Every chapter brings something new to the mix.

This book is not only an urgent and invigorating addition to the pastoralist development canon: it is a shot in the arm for all those concerned with pastoralism and the Horn of Africa: researchers, students, practitioners, policymakers, donor agencies and hopefully government will all learn from and make use of it.

Buy the book 

Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins
Earthscan / Routledge, July 2012
Paperback, £24.95 GBP
Order online

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