IGAD Partners with Member States to Support Pastoral Communities, Enhance Dev’t

Addis Ababa: Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is providing supports to pastoral communities to help them properly tap their enormous potential to accelerate development, uphold peace and regional integration, Director of IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development revealed. East Africa Pastoralist Expo organized by the Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands and IGAD is underway in Addis Ababa. The Expo brought together stakeholders to engage in meaningful discussion and propose actionable strategies to enhance resilience and sustainable development in pastoral areas. In an exclusive interview with ENA, the Director of IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development Dereje Wakjira said pastoral communities have contributed to regional integration and peace in the region. Thus, IGAD has played a pivotal role in supporting sustainable pastoralist livelihoods through various initiatives and frameworks in collaboration with member states. 'It's important to bring attention to policymakers and others that we have huge livestock in this region. We need to support through policies or different means so that these assets will help the people on the ground but also in building the economy of the countries,' he added. Moreover, the IGAD has a protocol on transhumance in order to make this mobility orderly that the countries have now largely signed the protocol to adopt it with the intention that when pastoralists move from one country to the other. 'It is to secure their travel routes from conflict. It's also allowing them to access whatever communal resources in a border area because this is an historical connection that they had for centuries.' On the other hand, he mentioned climate change as a challenge everywhere but also much more aggravated in pastoral areas. IGAD has started an initiative that brings all the countries in this region to invest in drought preparedness, recalling there is the Drought Resilience Program. Since then, the member states have been investing with the resources they have in pastoral areas to make communities prepared for drought, he said, adding however, the intensity of drought and climate change is really much higher than what we are doing. 'We are also talking to all development partners to continue to prepare the communities for this kind of drought and we are coordinating at the regional level to bring to their attention,' he underlined. Transhumance expert at IGAD, Japheth Kasimbu said this is a region where a pastoralist resides. The pastoral communities bring over 20 percent into our GDP he said, adding 'the value cannot be underestimated.' 'We are talking of our communities which are more than 40 million in this region. Therefore, as IGAD and the member countries, we cannot ignore the value of such a community in such a region,' he added. Moreover, he added that pastoralism transcends cross borders. If you go to one border like for example between Kenya and Ethiopia, you will find within the Moyale, there is a lot of movement. 'The pasto ralist should not be restricted, because traditionally they have been gracing from one country to another country. When we are looking about the cross border interventions, IGAD has lined up activities and has been working with member states.' It has established the protocol and transhumance to promote free movement of pastoralists from one country to another within the border regions for purposes of grazing, accessing water, services like veterinary, among others. 'We have the cross border clusters along those clusters or within those clusters. We have cross border initiatives, spanning from value addition on meat and leather, and we want to implore the member states to invest a lot in those clusters.' On other hand, the expert added that this region and Africa generally is endued with pastoral resources, especially livestock. The IGAD region has the largest pastoralist communities in Africa, we have the largest livestock in Africa. The region has over half a billion heads of livestock, leading in the Ho rn of Africa. Thus, he stressed that the member states of the region need to invest in these regions to enhance and improve the livelihood of the pastoral communities Source: Ethiopian News Agency