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Drawing on case studies in Ethiopia and Kenya, the paper “Climate change policy narratives and pastoralist predicaments in the Horn of Africa: insights from Ethiopia and Kenya” (2021, 4pp), presented by Tom Campbell at the Joint International Grassland & Rangeland Congress 2021, examines the discourses and narratives found in contemporary climate-change and national development policy, the actors and networks shaping those policy narratives, and their consequences for pastoralism.

The studies reveal that, while concerns around climate change and calls for strengthening resilience of dryland communities have given a new impetus to pastoral development, old arguments and assumptions that depict pastoral areas – and pastoralists – as unproductive and in need of modernisation remain deeply embedded in policymaking. These open up spaces for the state, investors and local elites to extend control over natural resources previously managed under customary institutions. The resultant climate policy “solutions” and dryland investments are leading to new patterns of social differentiation and vulnerability among pastoralists. Clearer overarching national land-use policies that integrate principles of pastoral governance, and that put measures in place to prevent the further loss of key pastoral resources, would enhance pastoralists’ rights and livelihoods.