Global villain, local savior? What's the role of livestock in sub-Saharan Africa?

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The livestock question is both complex and highly polarized, said Tara Garnett, the director of TABLEa collaboration between six universities that looks at debates in and around the future of food. She was introducing a panel discussion on 28 March 2024 titled ‘Global villain, local savior? What’s the role of livestock in sub-Saharan Africa?’

People come at the livestock issue from very different disciplinary, sectoral and geographical perspectives, Garnett went on. There is broad agreement that global trends of livestock production are problematic and unsustainable, but at a local level livestock can be crucial in supporting livelihoods, nutrition, ecosystem services, and be part of climate adaptation strategies.

Two scientists from the CGIAR Research Initiative on Livestock and Climate were part of the panel discussion- Laura Cramer, policy engagement specialist at the ILRI, and An Notenbaert, team leader of the Africa Tropical Forages Program at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, along with Mario Herrero, professor of sustainable food systems and global change at Cornell University, and Guyo Roba, head of the Jameel Observatory in the Policies, Institutions and livelihoods at ILRI.

The conversation emphasized the importance of examining the livestock sector from a global perspective while also recognizing regional differences, particularly between high-income countries and low- or middle-income countries (LMICs). Overall, there is a need for the global North to align with the global South to achieve adaptation and mitigation goals by sharing lessons learned and investing in the sector. Education and awareness about the broader services provided by livestock and the realities of pastoralism are crucial for developing effective and inclusive mitigation strategies.

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Story written by Annabel Slater. 

Banner photo: Cattle herded in Senegal. Photo by K.Marshall.

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