Supported by

  • EC

Who's who

Magda Nassef Magda Nassef is UNEP Project Manager for Environment and Livelihoods and works on issues of environmental governance, pastoral livelihoods and markets and trade in Darfur

Pastoral livelihood systems are based on three foundational pillars:

  • Natural resources (water and pasture in drylands);
  • People (family and institutions); and
  • Assets (livestock)

Understanding each of these pillars and the relationships between them is critical for promoting sustainable livelihoods and identifying ways of breaking cycles of negative social and environmental impacts. This also links closely to understanding the causes of vulnerability, which trigger maladaptive strategies among pastoralists in Sudan.

Pastoral livelihoods are therefore a focus of UNEP’s work in Sudan, in partnership with Tufts University, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and SOS Sahel Sudan, and supported by UKaid from the Department for International Development.

A critical element of pastoral livelihoods is mobility. In Sudan, a wide spectrum of mobility exists among pastoral groups, from entire families moving with their herds, to only a section of the family moving with livestock while a part remains settled (called transhumance), to entire families remaining settled, either hiring labour to move with the herd or having given up herding altogether. Mobility patterns also vary in different parts of the country.

Pastoralist livelihoods are flexible and adaptive and therefore fluid in the context of a changing environment. They will shift and adapt their systems of livestock production (transhumance, ranches, zero grazing) and diversify their livelihoods in response to changing contexts with varying implications for the environment and sustainable livelihoods. The project aims to understand some of the “push and pull” factors influencing this dynamic.

UNEP and Tufts aim to consolidate and continue to generate a solid evidence base on pastoral livelihoods in Sudan over three years (2010-2013), with the objective of informing and influencing institutions and policy, humanitarian, recovery and development programming, as well as peace processes.

Project objectives include:

  • Improving policy makers’ and practitioners’ understanding of pastoral production systems and adaptations to conflict and climate change;
  • Strengthening the capacity of pastoral leaders and other advocates to articulate the rationale of pastoralism and argue for its inclusion in state and national policies;
  • Establishing a multi-stakeholder forum and network of experts on pastoralism and building its capacity;
  • Adapting and implementing the East Africa ‘Pastoralism and Policy’ training course to the Sudan context;
  • Adapting the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards to the Sudan context; and
  • Identifying pastoralism research priorities, developing an action research program on policy-related pastoral issues, and undertaking pastoral research studies.

Please click here to access the Tufts website

Video: Pastoralism – Reassessing the Science, Evidence, and Policy in Sudan




Foundational Reports

Pastoralism and Pastoralists in Sudan: A Stakeholder Mapping and Survey
By: Helen Young, Afaf Rahim, Abdelhafiz Mohamed, Merry Fitzpatrick

The report describes the stakeholder groups, their sectoral involvement, and their awareness and opinions of the policy issues and challenges affecting pastoralists and pastoralist livelihood systems. More than 50 percent of the challenges identified by survey respondents related to environment and natural resources. A review of the UN work plan for 2011 indicates that pastoralists are generally under-represented or poorly considered in the UN humanitarian and recovery programs. This echoes the gaps within the national and state level government.

Livelihoods, Power and Choice: The Vulnerability of the Northern Rizaygat, Darfur, Sudan
By: Helen Young, Abdal Monium Osman, Ahmed Malik Abusin, Michael Asher, Omer Egemi; Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, 2009.

Based on fieldwork in rural Darfur, this report uses a livelihoods lens to illustrate the processes that have contributed to the vulnerability of the Darfuri nomads who have much in common with pastoralists globally. Severe pressures on pastoralist livelihoods have contributed to ‘maladaptive’ livelihood strategies that are often linked to violence and conflict, and undermine the livelihoods of both victims and perpetrators.

Meetings and Workshops

Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) – Workshop Report

The aims of this workshop were: to promote a wider understanding of the international and national LEGS initiatives; to review LEGS related programmes in Sudan; and to introduce the concepts, tools, and applications of Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA) with a view to identifying specific case-studies in Sudan for further review and learning. This report presents the seven expert presentations from national and international agencies, and summarizes the discussions during the workshop. It also presents the participants reflections on the relevance and implications of these initiatives for their work and for their organisations.

Working Papers

Economics of Pastoral Livestock Production in Sudan
By: Roy Behnke

This Working Paper is part of a series of policy review working papers undertaken as a foundational activity to inform subsequent briefing papers, research studies, policy trainings and other events under SIEP Livelihoods. This working paper first reviews the contribution of livestock and pastoralists to the Sudanese national economy and assesses the reliability of statistical data on this subject. Next it discusses several key national government policies on taxation and trade that affect the economic welfare of pastoralists. The final section reviews the impact of current economic trends on pastoral production systems, focusing on the effect of increased commercial involvement on herd management practices and on the distribution of wealth in pastoral communities.

Briefing Papers

Economics of Pastoral Livestock Production in Sudan
By: Roy Behnke

Livestock is by value the largest subsector of Sudan¹s domestic economy, larger even than petroleum. To a remarkable extent the economy of Sudan is based on a combination of pastoral and agro-pastoral livestock production by farming and herding households in almost every region and state, the majority of which depend to some degree on livestock mobility. Livestock has consistently provided more than 60% of the estimated value added by agriculture to the Sudanese economy and is a substantially more important contributor to national agricultural GDP than crop farming. At no time in the last decade has the contribution of petroleum to GDP come close to equaling the contribution of agriculture, of which livestock provides the biggest part.