Knowledge is Power: Pastoralists Request Education to Improve Livelihoods in Tanzania

Pastoralists at focus groups in the Ruaha Ecosystem voiced concern about climate change impacting livestock health and livelihoods and requested more education to increase their resiliency.  HALI is working to tailor locally relevant education to these communities on livestock health, disease, and productivity, and eventually through programs in human nutrition.  Photo by C. Gustafson.

Pastoralists at focus groups in the Ruaha Ecosystem voiced concern about climate change impacting livestock health and livelihoods and requested more education to increase their resiliency.  HALI is working to tailor locally relevant education to these communities on livestock health, disease, and productivity, and eventually through programs in human nutrition.  Photo by C. Gustafson.

- David Wolking

In rural Tanzania, pastoralists and their livestock are increasingly vulnerable to a changing climate.  Diminished rainfall, and increasing rates of deforestation and agricultural intensification stress existing rangeland availability and productivity, and pressure pastoral communities to adapt traditional production and livelihoods for survival.

Previous HALI project research identified infectious disease as a major production limitation with impacts on rural incomes and food security.  But the HALI team led by Drs. Christopher Gustafson and Liz VanWormer, and Asha Makweta also wanted to know what pastoralists considered the main challenges to livestock production and livelihood improvement.

Locally relevant education has the potential to make pastoralists’ livestock herds and livelihoods more resilient in a landscape rapidly being altered by environmental change.

In a new research brief published by the Colorado State University led Livestock and Climate Change CRSP, the HALI team describes results of focus groups held with pastoralist representatives and local leaders in 21 villages in the Ruaha Ecosystem.  In addition to confirming initial research findings emphasizing the importance of disease on health and livelihoods, focus group findings identified a critical intervention request: education.  All focus groups identified education as a key priority in improving livestock health and increasing resiliency.  While recognizing water shortages, availability and access to markets, veterinary services, and availability of medicines and other factors as challenges, education was stressed as a mechanism to empower pastoral communities that are frequently undeserved and marginalized by exiting infrastructure.  To pastoralists in the HALI community, knowledge is power, and providing locally relevant and customized education has the potential to increase resiliency of livelihoods and a lifestyle under siege from rapid environmental change.

Read or download the full research brief: "Pastoralist perspectives on livestock health, likelihood improvement, and environmental change in rural Tanzania" on our Issuu page.