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Cross-border coordination of livestock movements and sharing of natural resources among pastoralist communities in the Greater Karamoja Cluster

Operationalizing the humanitarian-development-peace nexus through the promotion of intercommunity coexistence

The Greater Karamoja Cluster (GKC) encompasses the southwestern parts of Ethiopia, northwestern Kenya, the southeastern parts of South Sudan and northeastern Uganda. Pastoralism is the principal source of livelihood in the GKC. Pastoralists largely depend on natural seasonal pastures and water resources for their survival. Livestock mobility remains the prime strategy employed by pastoralists and agropastoralists to cope with the seasonality and changing distribution of these resources.

FAO and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development have been the main facilitators of efforts to promote intercommunity, cross-border coordination of livestock mobility and sharing of natural resources in IGAD cross-border areas. FAO strongly believes that the modest costs involved in bringing together communities across borders to discuss the management of resources and resolve potential conflicts are more than offset by the benefits: improved resilience and strengthened livelihoods, better and more sustainable natural resource management, more trade and peace. This good practice fact sheet presents FAO’s experience gained over the past decade in different cross-border areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.


  • On the HDP nexus: The promotion of intercommunity coexistence promotes the operationalization of the humanitarian—development—peace (HDP) nexus. FAO's decade-long work in the Karamoja Cluster (in particular in Uganda and Kenya) shows that interventions focusing on livestock mobility and natural resource management play an important role towards strengthening livelihoods, sustaining peace and indirectly preventing conflict. Interventions combining a focus on livestock mobility and the preservation of natural resources with the goals of sustainable social transformation, innovation and conflict prevention have proved most cost-effective at increasing resilience (see KTW on cross-border collaboration and disaster risk reduction for more info).
  • On cross-border collaboration: Cross-border collaboration involves harmonized initiatives by organizations such as FAO, IGAD, and NGOs that contribute to building resilient livelihoods by promoting the sharing of natural resources, coordinating decisions on pasture and water use, and fostering cross-border dialogue. Collaboration occurs at three levels: community, national government, and regional. Involvement at the community level is critical, emphasizing traditional institutions, leaders, and intercommunity dialogue. Cross-border collaboration reinforces traditional pastoralist institutions, acknowledging the role of local communities in managing natural resources through mobility. The implementation of cross-border collaboration has positive impacts at various levels, including increased cross-border trade, joint drought responses, and improved links between governments and communities. Additionally, agreements for resource sharing reduce conflicts, create grazing opportunities, and enhance the resilience of livelihoods to droughts.
  • On community-managed disaster risk reduction: The sharing and coordinated use of natural resources promotes the peaceful coexistence of pastoral communities by protecting their livelihoods assets and boosting their resilience. Through a participatory natural resource management approach, local people are either involved in consultations about government-owned natural resources or are the key decision makers over resources of which they have full ownership. The community-managed disaster risk reduction is a participatory process bringing the community together to collectively formulate common disaster risk reduction measures. The nature of the risks and hazards that communities in cross-border areas are exposed to is analyzed jointly to develop lasting solutions.
  • On climate action: Frequent and persistent droughts are a recurrent feature of the Greater Karamoja Cluster. The impacts of these droughts are exacerbated by climate change, advancing desertification and the environmental degradation of rangelands. The resulting persistent food insecurity of pastoralist communities is worsened by the occurrence of transboundary animal diseases and the eruption of conflicts over natural resources within countries and across borders. The improved cross-border collaboration and coordination has enabled the governments of Turkana County in Kenya and those of the Moroto and Kotido districts in Uganda to develop a joint drought response sensitive to elements of peaceful coexistence between the Turkana and Karamojong peoples. The process of the cross-border sharing of pastoral resources and coordination of livestock movements draws upon several bottom-up approaches, including community-managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR), a participatory process bringing together people within the same community to collectively formulate common disaster risk reduction measures. The methodology targets a group of people in a systematic way, to build a safe and resilient community. The nature of the risks and hazards that communities in cross-border areas are exposed to is analyzed in order to develop lasting solutions.
  • On livestock and pastoral field schools: The community animal health workers, trained to provide basic animal health services, including mass veterinary treatment, vaccination and epidemiological surveillance, and give advice on husbandry to livestock keepers, promote farming techniques that optimize animal production and play an important role in reinforcing the resilience of pastoralists in the face of shocks and stresses. Livestock and pastoral field schools (PFSs) are “schools without walls,” where capacities are developed based on existing local knowledge. PFSs are guided by the following key principles:
    • i. learning is done by doing, and problem-based,
    • ii. the herd and the landscape are the main learning grounds,
    • iii. discovery-based learning tools trigger a spirit of curiosity and innovation, and
    • iv. trained facilitators guide the learning process, not by teaching but by facilitating.
  • On policies: Successful diffusion and upscaling of cross-border resource sharing require long-term political commitment, including sensibilization, sharing of successful cases, trained human resources, financial resources, legislation, and improved communication. FAO works to anchor the practice of cross-border resource sharing into regional and national strategies, ensuring sustainability by integrating these practices into broader policies. IGAD plays a central role in diffusing and upscaling cross-border resource sharing, expanding agreements between countries and leveraging its political clout for collaboration.

The sharing of pastoral resources (and services) not only promotes the resilience of resource-poor communities; it also creates new opportunities for cross-border trade and opens up new markets. In addition, the sharing of resources and the coordination of livestock movements creates opportunities for coordinated and harmonized investments in cross-border areas by national and regional authorities, and vice versa. The good practice shows that bringing together communities across borders to discuss the management of resources and resolve potential conflicts leads to improved resilience and strengthened livelihoods, better natural resource management, more trade and peace.

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