Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tackling climate change and livestock markets in the Horn of Africa

Carol Clark at Emory University:  For thousands of years, Muslims have gathered in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the hajj—an annual, five-day pilgrimage to the holy city. The largest pilgrimage in the world, the hajj draws millions of Muslims, and each year they feast on ritually sacrificed meat.

Much of that livestock, more than two million animals, now comes from the Horn of Africa. “It’s big business, but it’s unclear how much small-scale livestock producers in East Africa really benefit from the growing demand for their products in the Middle East,” says Emory anthropologist Peter Little. That’s one of the questions Little plans to tackle during the next phase of his research into how East African pastoralists make a living amid the vagaries of a harsh environment and climate change.

Little, who has been studying the region’s pastoralists for three decades, recently received an additional $700,000 from the Livestock-Climate Change (LCC) Collaborative Research Support Program to continue working on a joint project in the region. The LCC program, based at Colorado State University, was established in 2010 through an agreement with the US Agency for International Development.

Emory is partnering with Pwani University College in Kenya, Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, and the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute for the current phase of the project. In addition to Little’s deep experience in the region, Emory brings a strong public health component to the research and the expertise of disease ecologist Uriel Kitron, chair of environmental studies.

“One thing we will be looking at is how the warming of East Africa is creating different kinds of disease vectors, affecting both livestock and humans,” says Little, who also directs Emory’s new Development Studies program. The project ultimately aims to increase income and food security in the extremely vulnerable Horn of Africa. The region is confronting yet another drought disaster and violent conflict between Kenya and Somalia. “It’s a challenge working in the Horn of Africa on many levels,” Little says. “But the research questions are exciting, and so is the potential to have an impact. It’s a worthy goal.”...

In Ethiopia's Ghibe valley, ILRI-led Tsetse Fly control methods have allowed cattle to flourish in an area previously almost uninhabitable for them. This has encouragd more farming in the area, relieving to a degree population and soil erosion pressures in higher, Tsetse free, elevations. Shot by ILRI/Stevie Mann, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

No comments: