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February 1, 2024 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): The IGAD Center for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) in collaboration with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands (MILLs) held the Regional Pastoralism Day and Expo from January 26 – February 1, 2024, an event dedicated to celebrate the rich heritage of pastoralism, address the challenges faced by pastoral communities and explore opportunities for sustainable pastoral development in the IGAD region.

The Expo brought together Delegates from the IGAD Countries’ Line Ministries, regional and county governments, pastoralist parliamentary groups and caucuses, pastoralist networks and civil societies, development partners, academia, pastoralist community representatives from IGAD clusters of Moyale/Moyale, Mandera/Dolo Ado/Dolo bay, Dikhil/Jijinga, Benshagul Gumuz and Karamoja. They showcased the great African culture hemmed in pastoralism, displayed products from pastoral areas, engaged in meaningful dialogue, and proposed actionable strategies to enhance resilience and sustainable development in the region’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL).

60-70% percent of the IGAD region’s landmass is arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) where pastoral and agro-pastoral systems are the main sources of livelihoods. The region is endowed with about 488 million ruminants–cattle, sheep, goats and camels. Of these, over 60% are found in the pastoral and agro-pastoral systems (drylands). In the IGAD region, the livestock sector contributes 10%-50% of the individual country’s agricultural GDP.

This significant portion of transhumant animal population moves from one area to another, including across borders in search of water, pasture and for the purpose of trade. However, pastoralism faces threats such as insecurity, mobility restrictions, inadequate grazing land access, transboundary animal diseases and the impacts of climate change. ICPALD has played a pivotal role in supporting sustainable pastoralist livelihoods through various initiatives and frameworks.

Speaking on behalf of the IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, at the opening of the Regional Pastoralism Day and Expo, the ICPALD Director, Dr. Dereje Wakjira, stated that:

“We are celebrating one of the oldest food systems on the African continent, Pastoralism, which has evolved over generations, adapting to a changing environment and socio-political context. Pastoralism and pastoralists demonstrate the inter-dependency and linkage among the communities in the borderlands of IGAD Member States”.

During the event, IGAD organized panel discussions on four thematic areas:

  1. Pastoralism and livelihoods: Transforming livestock sector in drylands for climate-resilient and sustainable development.
  2. Supporting and nurturing pastoral land governance, heritage and indigenous practices in a dynamic economic and political environment.
  3. Cross-border policy coherence and practices on trade, animal health and disaster management in the IGAD region: challenges and opportunities for pastoral cross-border communities.
  4. Pastoral mobility, governance, conflict and climate change nexus: promoting pastoral resilience, resource-related conflict mitigation, food security and ecological balance amidst climate change.

Delegates discussed, in depth, the need to tap into indigenous knowledge to bring about secure pastoral land tenure systems and the current relevant technologies to enhance indigenous pastoral land governance. While at the Expo, participants engaged in panel discussions and identified opportunities for transforming the livestock sector pastoral ecosystem.

  • Seasonal mobility is and has long been an effective strategy for maintaining pastoralists livelihoods and the health of ecosystem.
  • Cross-border trade, primarily in livestock and consumer goods, is robust and resilient, continuing even in periods of intense conflict and with lack of supporting investment.
  • Traditional and informal institutions preserve credibility in places where government institutions are inefficient.
  • The cross-border communities often share a common language and rich culture.

At the closing of the Expo, Dr. Wakjira revealed that, there is significant potential for supporting regional economic integration through facilitation of cross border mobility and cross-border trade.

IGAD is grateful for the support of Partners and Member States for the successful accomplishment of the first regional pastoralism Expo.

Links to Additional Resources

  1. Link to final Expo report –
  2. UNDP web story –
  3. DT web story –
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