New directions for pastoral development in Africa

The last few years have seen a major rethinking of some of the hallowed assumptions of range ecology and range-management practice. The usefulness of terms such as 'vegetation succession', 'carrying capacity', and 'desertification' is being reassessed, particularly for the dry rangelands which are dominated by highly variable rainfall and episodic, chance events such as drought. This article examines the management and policy implications of this thinking for pastoral development in dryland areas. It briefly examines the consequences of environmental variability for pastoral development planning, range and fodder management, drought responses, livestock marketing, resource tenure, institutional development, and pastoral administration. By offering new directions for development workers, researchers, and policy planners, the article illustrates, in practical terms, a future for pastoral development in dryland Africa that recognises both the importance of pastoral livelihoods and the significance of environmental variability.