Skip to main content
Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture
in Recurrent and Protracted Crises


What are the key thematic areas that inform SPARC knowledge generation and research into ways to better support pastoralists and farmers in dryland regions? Read about the six, inter-related themes that guide the consortium’s research over the duration of the project. 

Natural resources and ecologies

Ecologies and natural resources - like land, water, livestock, and wildlife - vary greatly across drylands in Africa and the Near East. These areas are affected by climate variability and unequal distribution of water resources. However, they also hold great promise, with dryland pastoral communities increasingly diversifying into alternative ways to earn a living and participating in the community-based conservation of natural resources.

We will address evidence gaps in natural resource management in dryland regions with the aim of improving programming and policy-making to build the resilience of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in these areas. Find out more, and read our recommended resources on the theme of 'Natural resources and ecologies', here.


Chimpanzee, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya.
Chimpanzee, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya - image by Ray in Manila - CC BY 2.0.


Economies, markets and livelihoods

Livestock production and trade are the backbone of the livelihoods of many people and economies in drylands. Pastoral communities in these regions have adapted to differences in rainfall and annual changes in weather by moving their herds and flocks. They are also adopting other ways to earn a living - including farming, trading in livestock and consumer goods, working in public services, and migrating to cities from where they send home remittances. However, these livelihoods are challenged by further climate and environmental risks in the short and long term, including pests, diseases, conflict and climate change.

We will distil and share key lessons from our analysis of how communities and businesses in drylands generate and share income and adapt to hazards, and how public policies and investments in these regions affect local economies and communities. Find out more, and read our recommended resources on the theme of 'Economies, markets and livelihoods', here.


Animal trading in Forobaranga, Sudan.
Animal trading in Forobaranga, Sudan, near the Chadian border - image by Albert González Farran / UNAMID - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


Crisis and risk management

Dryland communities are often viewed as places of humanitarian crises in need of aid. Recent debates around investment in dryland resilience still follow humanitarian models of standardised aid packages to vulnerable communities. We know very little about how effective different investments are to support people in drylands who face shocks and crises.

SPARC aims to create, evaluate, synthesise and share existing and new knowledge to better understand how investments affect conflict; the ways that different land management institutions can help to manage conflicts and protect the interests of diverse communities - including pastoralists; and how governments and institutions can support markets to function through crises and in recovery. Read more on the theme of 'Crises and risk management' here.


Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos.
Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos - image by Steve Evans - CC BY-NC 2.0.


People and societies

Rangeland ecosystems help to maintain biodiversity and support the livelihoods of pastoralists and farmers. Agro-pastoralism is a secure and sustainable way of life for rural communities: it supports mobility, food production and the collective management of resources. Pastoralism is often the only source of income in the poorest arid and semi-arid regions globally. Yet, pastoral and agro-pastoral communities remain marginalised, and their livelihoods are increasingly under threat due to climate change, conflict, environmental degradation, changing global markets, growing populations and increasing competition for natural resources, which undermines their resilience.

We will provide new knowledge on agro-pastoral dynamics in fragile and conflict-affected states, including analysis of the impacts that shocks and threats have on different groups such as women, youth, the elderly and people with disabilities. Find out more, and read our recommended resources on the theme of 'People and societies', here.


Women at a beauty salon in Yemen.
Women waiting at a beauty salon in Yemen before the 2015 conflict - image by Scott Wallace / World Bank - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


Politics and governance

We will focus on the global, regional and national aspects of governance and the political economy environment for SPARC and research carried out in other SPARC thematic areas.  Our aim is to carry out policy analysis that considers the contexts in which policies are developed and implemented - including the incentives that drive policy-makers and other key stakeholders.

Our work will analyse migration, trade, and climate and human security, as well as exploring the impact of natural resource governance on economic development and security, and how global geo-politics and international frameworks affect regional crises and conflicts. Read more about the 'Politics and governance' theme here.


Internally displaced people are repatriated to their village in North Darfur, Sudan - Image by UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Internally displaced people are repatriated to their village in North Darfur, Sudan - Image by UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Gender equality and social inclusion

In SPARC, we believe that the integration of gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in agro-pastoralism research must make visible not only the nature of social difference, but also the operation of structures and processes that intersect to give rise to those inequalities.

This understanding then needs to be effectively communicated so that policy-making and development programming is able to actively address those root causes and create equal opportunities for inclusive participation and benefit between women, men, girls and boys, regardless of (dis)ability. In our operational activities, we will focus on gender, youth and disability as three core and under-addressed elements, while recognising that they are not the only issues of concern. Find out more, and read our recommended resources on the theme of 'Gender equality and social inclusion', here.


Sudanese refugees in Chad participate in vocational sewing training.
Sudanese refugees in Chad participate in vocational sewing training - Image by Dominique Catton / European Union 2018 - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


Explore SPARC resources

Read SPARC resources as we create, distil, evaluate and share evidence and best practice on research and policy that aims to support pastoralists and farmers in dryland areas.

User feedback survey

SPARC would like to better understand who accesses the research on our website, how it is used and how we can improve it. The information we collect here is only used for internal Monitoring and Evaluation purposes.

Questions with a * are required.
Is the information on this website useful to your work?
Is the information on this website understandable?
Will you apply this information to your work?
What type of information did you access on this website?