Patron -  Joanna Lumley, OBE

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Pastoralism in the Horn of Africa

The countries of the Horn of Africa are some of the poorest in the continent. All of them have significant numbers of pastoralists, and it is among these people that PENHA works. There are over 25 million pastoralists in the Horn of Africa - varying from one twentieth of the population in Uganda to over half in Somalia.

Nomadic pastoralists are herders of cattle, camels, sheep and goats and live in the very dry regions of Africa and Asia. They have to move for the water and pasture necessary for their animals. Some have permanent bases with the men and animals leaving their bases for the three to six months of dry weather. Others move as complete families. Governments, which are based on settled communities, have great difficulties in dealing with them.

As a way of using available resources and not overgrazing the land, pastoralism is a rational and environmentally friendly way of life. However, it is also very uncertain and subject to the variations in weather conditions from year to year.

A number of the studies which have been done – on education, on health, on communications such as roads and on the participation of pastoralists ino the decision-making processes of their countries – show that pastoralists and pastoral areas have historically been neglected.

However, changes are gradually beginning to take place. Some countries are beginning to recognise that as well as deserving to be supported and properly considered in national planning, pastoralists can and do make significant contributions to the economies of their countries. With the help and support from NGOs such as PENHA, community based organisations and international donors, pastoralists are becoming more effective in demanding their own rights in addition to adapting their way of life to take advantage of a changing world. PENHA and its many local partners have played and continue to play a significant part in the development of pastoralist policy and livelihoods.