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East and Southern Africa

Woman farmer collecting crop residue for fuel wood in Oromia region of Ethiopia. Photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu

Woman farmer collecting crop residue for fuel wood in Oromia region of Ethiopia. Photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu

About our work 

The East and Southern Africa region covers Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia in the north, South Sudan, Kenya, Zambia, and Angola, the southern countries of Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa, and the island of Madagascar. In a 530,000 km2 research area representing marginal drylands in Kenya and Ethiopia, our work focuses on reducing vulnerability and managing risk. The Chinyanja Triangle, a highly populated region covering central and southern Malawi, the Eastern Province of Zambia and Mozambique’s Tête Province, is not so vulnerable and has more potential. Here, work focuses on diversifying and intensifying production.

Northeastern Kenya and southeastern Ethiopia are 70% arid and 30% semi-arid. Evapotranspiration is up to four times the average annual rainfall. Drought is thus a major challenge, affecting farmers’ assets, income, and food security. Droughts are so frequent that livestock losses are heavy and herds take a long time to recover. Despite this, rearing livestock is still the main agricultural activity. Land is degrading, particularly around watering points. Farmers lack support to improve animal husbandry and diversify. The region is marginalized and political will to invest in infrastructure to improve access to markets is weak.

In both the marginal drylands of Ethiopia and Kenya, and the drylands in Chinyanja Triangle where there is potential to intensify production, population pressure degrades land resources, fragments holdings, and spawns conflicts. Limited investment in infrastructure such as roads, schools, and markets restricts opportunities to link to economic activities and tap into technical expertise for diversifying livelihoods and increasing productivity.

The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems in the region works to achieve sustainable intensification of smallholder agricultural livelihood systems by effectively linking conservation, production and livelihood objectives. Research activities focus on identifying effective gender-responsive approaches to minimize constraints in crop-livestock production through adoption of climate smart practices and improved technologies. The goal is to help mitigate dryland degradation over 600,000 km2 and improve opportunities and livelihoods of 20 million people, including young people and women. This involves understanding vulnerability to drought and the needs of farmers, delivering solutions, and communicating evidence that solutions are effective.

Priority activities 

  • Arresting over-exploitation/degradation of the resource base,
  • Creating enabling environment that supports sustainable growth and development
  • Understanding long-term trends in trade-offs and synergies between system components using bio-economic modeling techniques.
  • Capacity building of stakeholders to consider trade-offs and knock-on effects in their planning for rangeland management
  • Using IP to enhancing capacity to use market-oriented approaches for scaling out technical, institutional and policy options by context
  • Gender and youth will be the underlying focus for the above priorities.

Research projects 

Dryland Systems conducts 19 research-in-development projects in the East and Southern African Drylands. These projects are categorized in different areas including:

  • Developing resilient and profitable rural livelihood systems in semi-arid Mozambique: A conceptual approach- 2012-2015
  • Integrating crop and livestock production for improved food security and livelihoods in rural Zimbabwe: 2012-2016
  • Enhancing nutrition, stepping up resilience and enterprise (ENSURE): 2014-2016
  • Index-Based Livestock Insurance : Jul 2012 – Jun 2016
  • Enhancing community resilience to drought through innovative market based systems approaches: Nov 2013 – Nov 2015
  • Technical Consortium for Resilience in the Horn of Africa: Jan 2012-Dec 2015
  • Integrating crop and livestock production for improved food security and livelihoods in rural Zimbabwe (ZimCLIFS): Jun 2012 – May 2015
  • Agro-ecological intensification in Malawi through action research with smallholder farmers: Sep 2012 – Aug 2016
  • Acting Together Now for Pro-poor Land Management Strategies Against Soil and Land Degradation: 2014-2016
  • Reducing land degradation and farmers’ vulnerability to climate change in the highland dry areas of north-western Ethiopia: Apr 2013 to Jun 2016
  • Africa Rising: January 2014 to June 2015
  • Evergreen Maize for Africa: Oct 2014 - Sep 2015

For more information please contact the East and Southern African Drylands Flagship Coordinator, Sikhalazo Dube, on ).