Private: Regional Policy Support to COMESA

The livelihoods of many pastoral communities in Africa are cross-border in nature. Pastoralists are often geographically located at the margins of countries and their livelihood depends on the movement of livestock to and from seasonal grazing areas, which in turn may require movement across national boundaries. In times of drought or conflict, pastoralists may also move in search of grazing or to avoid violence.

Scientific research shows that the mobility of pastoralists and their opportunistic use of fragile dryland environments partly determine the efficiency of their livestock production systems, yet this movement is often regarded by government as irrational or illegal. Similarly, these cross-border pastoral systems are currently hindered by livestock marketing policies and regulations which view cross-border livestock trade as illegal. Such trade is crucial if pastoralists are to convert livestock into cash. In some areas, income from seasonal labor is based on travel to neighboring countries. The cross-border nature of pastoralism indicates that regional approaches to both development policy and humanitarian assistance are needed.

The goal of this project is to improve the food security of pastoral communities in the COMESA region through facilitating the development of pro-pastoralist regional food security policy.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is one of Africa’s regional economic communities with 19 member states covering parts of north, east, central, and southern Africa. The COMESA mandate focuses on promoting trade intra-regionally and internationally, and the organization has particular experience in developing free trade areas and working with member states to promote cross-border trade. Under the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) includes the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Under CAADP, COMESA is the lead partner for the development of food security policy frameworks. Within this process is a specific element dealing with vulnerable communities such as pastoralists.

This work fell under our project Pastoral Areas Coordination, Analysis and Policy Support (PACAPS), funded by USAID East Africa under the program Regional Enhanced Livelihoods in Pastoral Areas (RELPA) and which ended in March 2010.

Following the series of three training courses and consultations outlined in the 2008-9 report, we led a collaborative group of researchers and practitioners to draft the COMESA “Policy Framework for Food Security in Pastoralist Areas,” released by COMESA in December 2009 and made available on the COMESA website. The document is currently moving through the COMESA process for endorsement by member states. Partners in this process included the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), TAD Scientific, Emory University, and Kesarine and Associates.

We have made presentations on the COMESA policy framework at African Ministerial meetings, notably the COMESA Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Environment Meeting in Victoria, Zimbabwe, September 2009. We also worked with IIED to develop the book Modern and Mobile, a contemporary review of pastoralism in Africa. The book is available as a free download from the IIED website.



  • Livestock Marketing in Kenya and Ethiopia: A Review of Policies and Practice. By Yacob Aklilu. October 2008.
  • Impact Assessment of the Community Animal Health System in Mandera West District, Kenya. Dr. Gezu Bekele and Dr. Jeremiah Akumu. August 2009.

Regional Livestock and Pastoralism Policy Training

Policy Briefs

  1. Commodity-based Trade in Livestock Products: New Opportunities for Livestock Trade in the COMESA Region (PDF). May 2008.
  2. Hidden Value on the Hoof: Cross-Border Livestock Trade in Eastern Africa (PDF). February 2009.
  3. Income Diversification Among Pastoralists: Lessons for Policy Makers (PDF). March 2009.
  4. COMESA, Transboundary Animal Diseases and Marketing of Beef (PDF) September 2009.
  5. The COMESA Green Pass and Commodity-based Trade in Livestock Products (PDF) September 2009.
  6. Improving Trade in Livestock Commodities by COMESA – The Challenge of Animal Traceability (PDF) October 2009.
  7. Credible Certification for COMESA – Strategies and Tools (PDF) October 2009.
  8. Campaigning for the COMESA Green Pass for Livestock Commodities – Who and How? (PDF) October 2009.
  9. Sustainable Trade in Wildlife Commodities (PDF) November 2009.
  10. Farming Livestock for Export – What Needs to Change? (PDF) December 2009.
  11. Promoting Commodity-based Trade – Using the Equivalence Principle (PDF) January 2010.
  12. Solving the Problem of Residues in Livestock Commodities (PDF) February 2010.
  13. Modern, Mobile and Profitable: Assessing the Total Economic Value of Pastoralism (PDF) February 2010.
  14. Legislation to Support Cross-border Livestock Mobility (PDF) February 2010.*Download all the policy briefs in one document* (PDF).

Technical Briefing Papers

  1. Pastoralists, food security and disaster response: the use of “Preparedness Auditing” to strengthen contingency planning(PDF). May 2009.
  2. Trigger happy? Signals for timely humanitarian response in pastoralist areas (PDF). May 2009.

This component of the program assumes that governments in Africa are generally receptive to initiatives and policy direction from higher-level African regional membership organizations, and that targeting regional organizations can be a very efficient way to impact on numerous countries simultaneously. Within the CAADP process led by COMESA are national-level policy reviews and analyses, leading to national agricultural development investment plans within CAADP at regional level. Therefore, national policy processes are inherent in the regional CAADP process, and provide an opportunity to ensure that pastoralism is properly represented. Given the controversies surrounding pastoralism in Africa, clear pro-pastoralist policy statements by respected organizations such as COMESA and the AU are likely to raise awareness of the potential for countries to better integrate pastoral areas into their development policies and strategies.

At an organizational level, the activity seeks continue to develop the long-term capacity of COMESA to lead regional policy analysis and reform in the areas of pastoralism and livestock development. The activity builds on Tuft/FIC’s support to COMESA from 2007, which has led to COMESA committing to the establishment of a new Livestock Unit to be staffed in the long-term with COMESA core staff.


The multi-stakeholder approach to policy dialogue promoted by Tufts/FIC automatically ensures that a wide range of individuals and organizations are involved.

Some of the key actors at the regional level are: COMESA Secretariat, African Union Commission, Inter-governmental Agency for Development, East Africa Community, World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism (International Union for Conservation and Nature), FAO Livestock Policy Initiative, Oxfam GB Report on the Status of Pastoralism, regional trade organizations, UNDP, UNOCHA, USAID East Africa, SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and DFID (UK Department for International Development).

At the national level key actors include: the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the government of the Republic of Kenya, Save the Children US (Ethiopia), and CARE International (Somalia).