Rebounding from the brink of extinction: Commercial production of milk amongst pastoralists for climate change resilience in Uganda
This technical report (PDF) by CTA describes how commercial milk production has several direct and indirect benefits that insulate pastoralists from climate and other risks, and generally improve their standard of living in Uganda. The most fundamental benefit is an increase in cash incomes experienced by the vast majority of milk producers. The regular flow of income (daily or weekly) from milk sales adds additional benefits. It enables them to understand and monitor market prices (pastoralists who sell only cattle generally sell cattle infrequently and have little market information that allows them to obtain the highest prices for their cattle). The steady stream of income allows pastoralists to respond quickly to personal and household needs, such as an illness in the family (or to their cattle). It also enables them to make and execute plans – such as those for schooling and investments. Many milk producers use the higher, steady income specifically to reduce their exposure to climate-related risks. Examples include: 1) Building small dams that hold water from the wet season and diminish their vulnerability to drought. 2) Increasing the use of pesticides to reduce the cattle’s exposure to disease-carrying insects and ticks that are becoming more numerous as temperatures rise, precipitation patterns change. 3) Expanding the education and economic activities of women. Some women experience new opportunities directly related to milk, as they control the production, processing and sale of milk. Lessons learned in the Southwest Region are now spreading to the Central Region, demonstrating the potential for scaling-up the transition process. This expansion of the transition within Uganda suggests that similar transitions can occur elsewhere to insulate pastoralists from climate-related and other risks. Although practices would have to be adapted to fit the economic, social, ecological and political circumstances of other areas.