SMA hosted a speaker session with Prof. Kathleen Galvin (University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology & Director of the Africa Center, Colorado State University) as part of its SMA “Anticipating the Future Operational Environment” (AFOE) Speaker Series.
Climate change is having adverse effects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa—especially on pastoralist communities. As climate change continues to increase surface temperatures, increase temperature extremes, and make marine heat waves more frequent, extreme precipitation and drought events will occur more frequently. Extreme precipitation and drought will likely exacerbate the region’s widespread food insecurity. Further food insecurity has long reaching affects, including strength of governance and adult literacy. Twenty-one percent of Africans are already suffering from malnutrition. Furthermore, the growing variability in precipitation and drought affects pastoralists’ access to water, which is an extremely important resource to their livelihood. Professor Galvin mentioned Kenya as an example for how important pastoralism can be to a country. Kenya is comprised of 80% rangelands that supports 10 million people. Pastoralism is responsible for 10%-to-13% of Kenya’s GDP.
The UN has 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), including no hunger. All the SDGs are interrelated; however, food security is crucial to all states’ stability. Furthermore social, cultural, and environmental changes are occurring throughout Africa, changing peoples’ wants and needs. These changes include urbanization and the increasing prevalence of technology, such as cellphones. As extreme weather places pastoralists’ livelihoods at risk, they are looking to diversify their livestock, supplement pastoralism with agriculture, and in some cases leave pastoralism behind. Prof. Galvin commented that Africa is extremely diverse and not all pastoralist communities face the same hardships. Collaborative partnerships between research, agriculture extension services, and local communities to co-create policies and best practices for pastoral adaption is important for the future of countries’ food security and the economic security of pastoral communities Sub-Saharan Africa.