Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary
Climate Change and Pastoralism
About the Cyberlibrary
The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary was developed by Mick Kelly and Sarah Granich on behalf of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the International Institute for Environment and Development, with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site, and on other sites that are referenced here, is accurate, no liability for loss or damage resulting from use of this information can be accepted.
Climatic fluctuations are a defining characteristic of dryland areas in Africa. Pastoralism is a livelihood system that enables dryland people to cope with these fluctuations. But pastoral systems depend on maintaining a delicate balance between pastures, livestock and people. Central to this is livestock mobility - moving herds to areas with better grazing conditions, particularly in dry periods.
Most climate change models predict rising temperatures and decreasing rainfalls in many African dryland areas. Rainfall will be increasingly erratic and more extreme weather conditions, such as droughts, are expected. This could undermine the delicate balance on which pastoral systems depend.
Decreases in pasture quality and quantity, due to low rainfall, mean pastoralists could lose their livestock and face destitution. Livestock are also more than economic assets - they are cultural and spiritual assets and define social identity. Scarcer resources and demographic growth are likely to increase competition for natural resources - possibly resulting in conflict and loss of livestock and livelihoods.
In northwest Kenya, several years of low rainfall have recently resulted in the death of many livestock, and in a major food crisis among the Turkana pastoralists.
Negative perceptions of pastoral systems have resulted in unfavourable policies in the past, particularly policies constraining herd mobility, damaging common property regimes under which many pastoralist systems operate and supporting agricultural encroachment. Pastoralists have, therefore, become more 'sedentary'. But in a changing environment, herd mobility will become even more important.
Experience shows that where pastoralists cannot move to refuge areas in times of crisis, the little available pasture and water attracts more livestock and people. This exacerbates environmental degradation around water points and leads to declining livestock health and productivity.
Tackling these issues requires action at local, national and international levels. Long-standing negative perceptions of pastoralism must be replaced by recognition of the rationale of such systems in dryland areas.
Key areas of policy intervention include:
Ced Hesse, 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H 0DD, UK. Fax: +44-20-73882826. Email: email@example.com.
General Electric plans to cut solar installation costs by half
Project 90 by 2030 supports South African school children and managers reduce their carbon footprint through its Club programme
Bath & North East Somerset Council in the United Kingdom has installed smart LED carriageway lighting that automatically adjusts to light and traffic levels
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Public Gardens Association are mounting an educational exhibit at Longwood Gardens showing the link between temperature and planting zones
The energy-efficient Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers hotel is powered by renewable and sustainable sources, including integrated solar photovoltaics and guest-powered bicycles
El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, plans to generate 80 per cent of its energy from renewable sources
The green roof on the Remarkables Primary School in New Zealand reduces stormwater runoff, provides insulation and doubles as an outdoor classroom
The Weather Info for All project aims to roll out up to five thousand automatic weather observation stations throughout Africa
SolSource turns its own waste heat into electricity or stores it in thermal fabrics, harnessing the sun's energy for cooking and electricity for low-income families
The Wave House uses vegetation for its architectural and environmental qualities, and especially in terms of thermal insulation
The Mbale compost-processing plant in Uganda produces cheaper fertilizer and reduces greenhouse gas emissions
At Casa Grande, Frito-Lay has reduced energy consumption by nearly a fifth since 2006 by, amongst other things, installing a heat recovery system to preheat cooking oil