Pastoralism and conflict in the Horn of Africa

Violent conflicts involving pastoralists have become widespread and increasingly severe throughout much of the Horn of Africa. This report identifies and examines the factors contributing to such conflicts, and discusses issues and priorities for conflict prevention and peace-building. These are examined across the Horn of Africa in general, and in Laikipia - a district in northern Kenya - in particular. On the basis of this examination, a number of conclusions and recommendations are developed on ways in which the EU and its member states could contribute to efforts to prevent conflicts involving pastoralists in Kenya and more generally in the Horn of Africa.

The Horn contains the largest population of pastoralists in the world. Pastoralist communities in the region are nomadic, live primarily in arid or semi-arid areas, and depend for their livelihood on livestock - cattle, sheep, goats and camels. They rely on access to water and pasture land. Such resources are scarce and under increasing pressure. They must be shared with ranchers, farmers and wildlife, as well as with the needs of the urban communities.

Laikipia is one of 17 Districts in the Rift Valley region of Kenya. It is a multi-ethnic tribal district which pastoralist communities share with ranchers, farmers, horticulturalists and wildlife conservation areas. It includes extensive arid and semi-arid lands as well as arable and urban areas. Pressures on water and land resources have increased greatly in recent years, with increased farming activities, rapid population growth, and periodic drought. Although violent conflicts in Laikipia have not reached the scale or intensity of those in many parts of the Horn, conflicts involving pastoralists associated with resource competition, cattle rustling, and wide availability of small arms are nevertheless widespread and of increasing concern. It thus provides a useful case study to examine in depth the factors contributing to conflict and the issues and priorities for conflict prevention.

The report makes a number of recommendations to enhance the EU's role in helping to prevent conflicts as well as reduce poverty, conflict and insecurity in arid and semi-arid districts such as Laikipia where pastoralists form a substantial part of the population and pastoralism is a major factor in the economy. This goal implies a direct focus on tackling the factors contributing to conflicts involving pastoralists, and on enhancing security and preventing such conflicts.