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The Economic Contribution of Pastoralism: Case Studies from the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

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This paper reviews the literature on the economic contribution of pastoralism to the national economies of seven countries, two in the Horn of Africa and five in southern Africa. For all the countries covered here, it is difficult to disaggregate at the national level the economic outputs of pastoral livestock from livestock more generally. Research studies have nonetheless identified the distinctive contributions of pastoralism and occasionally quantified these contributions for selected localities and regions. This work demonstrates that the economic role of pastoralism can be quite different even for national economies in the same region. There also exist broad regional differences between the Horn, where pastoralists are heavily involved in producing live animals for export, and southern Africa, where smaller herds are kept primarily for purposes other than commercial sales. At least three methodological shortcomings limit our ability to quantify the contributions made by pastoralists to national economies: aggregated national statistics, the selective recording of data on pastoral production, and analytical confusion about how to impute realistic cash values to the products that herders obtain from their own herds for their own consumption.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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  • Nomadic Peoples is an international journal published by the White Horse Press for the Commission on Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Its primary concerns are the current circumstances of all nomadic peoples around the world and their prospects. Its readership includes all those interested in nomadic peoples, scholars, researchers, planners and project administrators.
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