18 March 2014

East Africa: World Bank Boosts Support for Pastoralists in Horn of Africa

press release

Washington — The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today approved a total of US$122 million for a regional pastoralism project to improve the livelihoods of pastoralists in the Horn of Africa and strengthen the capacity of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional organization that works to promote sustainable development of pastoralism in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Today's grant funding is provided by the International Development Association (IDA).* The Republic of Kenya will receive US$77 million, Republic of Uganda US$40 million and US$5 million for IGAD.

"Across Sub-Saharan Africa, pastoralists face daunting challenges compounded by the vagaries of climate, animal disease, dwindling access to water resources and grazing lands, poor market infrastructure and lack of early warning systems for drought to name just a few," said Colin Bruce, World Bank Director for Regional Integration in the Africa Region.

"Since these are transboundary problems, this project takes a sub-regional approach to addressing the development needs of pastoralists necessary for ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity in eastern Africa."

The project will directly benefit 135,000 households (93,000 in Kenya, 42,000 in Uganda) and more than 280,000 households if indirect beneficiaries are considered and whose livelihoods rely mainly on pastoral activities, including but not limited to livestock keeping, processing or marketing.

A key focus of the project is to enhance the resilience and coping capabilities of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities living in drought-prone areas and enable governments of the selected countries and regional institutions to respond effectively to weather-induced emergencies in a coordinated manner.

Pastoralism is the extensive, mobile rearing of livestock on communal rangelands. It is the prevailing livelihood and production system practiced in the world's arid and semi-arid lands.

Recent estimates put the total number of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists worldwide at 120 million, of which 50 million reside in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

In the Horn of Africa, arid and semi-arid areas account for more than 60 percent of the total surface area with a pastoral population estimated between 12 million and 22 million people.

Seasonal and cross-border mobility are a crucial feature of pastoralist livelihoods and coping mechanisms against droughts and conflicts.

The ecosystems from which pastoralist derive their livelihoods often go beyond national borders as do the market networks for livestock that provide them with opportunities for income growth.

Worldwide, pastoralists constitute one of the poorest population sub-groups. Among African pastoralists, the incidence of extreme poverty ranges from 25 to 55 percent, and in the Horn of Africa it is 41 percent.

"The project's over-arching focus is on livestock, the single-most important asset and a key source of food and income security for pastoralists," said Stephane Forman and Christopher Finch, World Bank Co-Task Team Leaders for the project.

"The project is focused on the regional dimensions of strengthening their access to natural resources and markets, as well as disease control, fodder production, and early warning systems.

We look forward to effective implementation of the project so that households are better able to manage climate risks and develop coping mechanisms against drought and animal diseases that are frequently the bane of African pastoralists."

The project is part of a larger push to improve pastoralism and irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa. It follows two landmark conferences held in Mauritania and Senegal last year focusing on improving pastoralism and irrigation in the Sahel.

Please visit the site to see more on the conferences.

* The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives.

IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day.

Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.

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