Animals such as camels, cows, and donkeys, along with goats, sheep, and chickens represent food, draught power, fertiliser, fibre and important livelihoods sources for most farmers and pastoralists in Africa. Different livestock systems ensure different resilience responses. In dryland settings of Africa, pastoralists rely on livestock to survive in areas where crops cannot grow. Pastoralist systems are a resilience strategy unto themselves. However, recent extreme climate events such as the unprecedented five-year drought in the Horn of Africa have tested the limits of pastoralist systems resilience. In the mixed farming systems throughout Africa, livestock provide important nutrient management for crops and are a convertible source of income, especially when crops fail.
Yet, livestock are often overlooked in the agriculture sector, with commercial and staple crops receiving more investment attention. Even though the livestock sector contributes 40% of Africa’s total agricultural GDP (ranging from 40 to 80%, in individual countries), official development assistance disbursements to agriculture’s growing livestock subsector are dramatically less than warranted.
In this session, we will look at how the livestock and climate narrative of the Global North – dominated by critiques of industrial-scale livestock production and overconsumption of animal sourced foods – often overshadows the importance of livestock systems in the Global South and how this leads to missed opportunities for greater investments in climate-smart livestock practices that can support livestock keepers and producers to adapt and be productive in the face of climate change. We will introduce a new narrative for sustainable and resilient livestock development in Africa, exploring some of the challenges and opportunities to ensure greater resilience of diverse livestock systems. We will also look at some of the factors that support and obstruct resilience such as governance, land tenure, attitudes towards livestock keepers, etc. The session will provide recommendations for greater investment in resilience of livestock systems in Africa.
The International Livestock Research Institute, CGIAR, African Group of Negotiators Experts Support (AGNES)