Trees to increase resilience in East African drylands

Photo courtesy Columbia University, which is running the East African Drylands Initiative, aiming to address the unique development challenges of arid nations in East Africa.

Interest in drylands development has been increasing in recent years, driven by the recognition that there is a need to increase people’s resilience and reduce their dependency on aid. The reawakened interest in drylands development has translated into support of livestock- and crop-based development pathways and recent efforts to foster resilience tends to focus on livelihood dimensions that revolve around these agricultural commodities. However, although trees and agroforestry significantly support dryland livelihoods there is scattered knowledge and limited insight in the role that forests and trees could play in achieving more resilient drylands development.

To address this knowledge gap, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) are organizing a write shop to compile existing knowledge and best practice on the resilience that is provided by trees in forests and agroforestry systems in the drylands of Eastern Africa. In the week of 15 to 19 July 2013, stakeholders with in-depth knowledge of African drylands will consolidate knowledge on the resilience that could be offered by trees.

Forty participants from Kenya, the East African region and beyond will be involved in the expert consultation. They will synthesize the dispersed knowledge on the role that trees play or may play in creating resilience of the livelihoods of people living in the drylands of Eastern Africa.

From this exercise, practical guides for parliamentarians, government officials, farmers’ associations, NGOs and other will be prepared. This work will help to ensure that trees in forests and agroforestry systems are managed and used to strengthen people’s resilience to the shocks they encounter in drylands.'

Paul Stapleton

Paul Stapleton is the Head of Communications at the World Agroforestry Centre.

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