Patron -  Joanna Lumley, OBE

Linked In logo

Support Penhatoday

Implications of Social Protection Policy on Pastoralism

Bereket Tsegay

Social investments promote societal justice and contribute to poverty reduction.[1] This was 

drawn upon Africa’s experience during the 1960s and 1970s. Though social protection is a 

fundamental human right, pastoralists have been neglected in securing this right. They 

usually do not get the necessary facilities that help their survival in the drought affected areas 

of the Horn.

The problem of drought in the Horn of Africa is systemic and has led to a 

vicious cycle of famine. Over the last forty years, the Horn of Africa witnessed a number of 

development interventions which one after another failed to address the rights issues and 

ensure social security. Among pastoral communities, inequalities are mainly caused due to 

the absence of the sharing of power, unfair trade, exploitation by middle men, unfair 

government taxation of livestock, and ecological decline. The above problems have been 

exacerbated as most government policies focus more on urban and semi-urban areas rather 

than the rural areas predominantly occupied by pastoralists and their unique livelihood. Basic 

social services (health, education, hygiene and sanitation) are urgently needed to be 

developed in the remote pastoralist but in a manner which is responsive to the special 

circumstances, culture and way of life. of the pastoral communities. 

The pastoralists’ key assets are livestock where there is a need for livestock based insurance 

or other alternative mechanisms to be introduced in order to support their self-adaptive 

strategies during the financial and environmental crisis. The high degree of market volatility 

and herders assumption about the expected risks of chronic drought pushes them to sell 

animals at lower prices.. Such situation, force the herders to pay more for the cereals which 

is not comparable to livestock sales.[2] Such unfavourable terms of trade negatively affects 

the overall pastoralist household financial position,and they are thus exposed for social 

insecurity. Currently, they depend almost entirely on their own social, cultural and traditional 

means for their social protection. Designing long-term development interventions and 

policies that make social protection a backbone should be devised in order to alleviate poverty and improve their wellbeing. 

[1] Bangura, Y. (2011) Jobs and equity key to Africa's poverty fight: Progress on MDGs requires more than social safety nets, 19 Jan 2011

[2] Little, P. and et al (2001) When deserts flood: risk management and climatic processes among East African pastoralists, in Climate Research, Vol. 19: 149–159, 2001

Source: Based on Paper presented to the UNRSID Conference on “Innovative Development Strategy IV: A Rights-based Approach to Food” Session  October 24-25th 2011 Paris, France