Integrated Regional Information Networks | July 12, 2010
“In my 80 years living as a pastoralist it has never been like this. The rainfall pattern has been unpredictable. Our livestock is dying and we do not know why,” says Bote Bora, a pastoralist from Isiolo, Kenya.
Mr. Bora was speaking at the launch of a report released by the Security in Mobility initiative. The report calls on governments to implement policies which will safeguard pastoralists’ livelihoods.
To gather first hand knowledge on how economic, social and environmental factors affect pastoralist lives, representatives from a number of international organizations travelled 10,000 kilometres across the region. Over the course of 18 months, they met with many pastoralist leaders and communities. The consultations covered the border areas of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Pastoralists told the visitors that environmental conditions, such as unpredictable rainfall and higher temperatures, mean more frequent trips across borders to find food and water for their livestock. Yet there are no formal laws to guarantee their safety. Moving across borders is often a source of conflict and insecurity.
At the launch, Jeanine Cooper, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kenya, stated that eight million pastoralists in the region are at risk due to climate change. “It is estimated that close to one million pastoralists have been forced out of their livelihoods. They have become destitute in urban and relief centres and are heavily dependant on food aid.”
In the self-declared republic of Somaliland, the International Fund for Agricultural Development is implementing a project to support agro-pastoralists. They are targeting 53,000 pastoralist families. The project aims to halt migration to urban centres. Those who remain in rural areas will receive improved livestock breeds and seeds.
Pastoralists who have moved to urban centres are struggling. Asha Mohamed, in her 60s, moved to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, six months ago. “I came to Hargeisa after all my 100 sheep died due to the drought,” she said. “I now live in a settlement but I have not received any support; only my neighbours help me out now and then by giving me food.”
The Security in Mobility report calls for action to facilitate the safe movement of pastoralists within their countries and across borders. It declares that efforts are needed to address climate change. It recommends a “joined-up” approach, that would provide humanitarian assistance and access to basic services in order to ensure the long-term survival of pastoralist communities.
Augustine Lotodo, a member of parliament in the East African Legislative Assembly said, “Security in Mobility ensures that pastoralist communities can continue their traditions and culture while at the same time integrating modern aspects such as health and education.”