Africa should make more use of the skills of its
nomadic peoples to help combat the challenges of climate change, the
aid agency Oxfam says.
Pastoral communities such as the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania could pass on survival skills, says a new report.
The Maasai have learnt over generations how to farm in deserts and scrublands.
Instead of being respected, though, the pastoralists have been
marginalised politically, their way of life deemed out-dated and
irrelevant, Oxfam says.
There are between 500,000 and one million Maasai in Africa, who mostly live in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya.
Droughts and floods
Famed as herders and warriors, the tribe once dominated the
plains of East Africa, moving from one place to another and sharing
access to water and pasture.
But they are now confined to a fraction of their former range.
A new Oxfam report, Survival of the Fittest, describes how East
African governments have excluded pastoralist communities, adversely
affecting their ability to maintain a sustainable livelihood.
"All too often the direct economic value generated by
pastoralists is not retained in their communities, and the indirect
value is unrewarded and even unacknowledged by decision-makers," said
Paul Smith-Lomas, regional director for Oxfam International.
Mohammed Elmi, who in April was appointed as Kenya’s first
north-eastern minister, said pastoralists had been adapting to changes
in climate for millennia, and these skills could help them cope with
the continent’s increasingly hot weather.
"However, their adaptability cannot be realised without government support and investment," he said.
The UN climate panel predicts Africa will be hit hard by climate
change in the next century, with tens of millions facing food and water
shortages as rising temperatures are exacerbated by more droughts,
floods and rising sea levels.