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Nomadic Peoples

The journal of the Commission on Nomadic Peoples

International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological

Sciences (IUAES), USA

& Associate Research Fellow

German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture

and the Transdisciplinary and Social-Ecological Landuse


Areas of Expertise

Pastoralist livelihood strategies and production systems, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa, at the interface between producers, science, and development.

Brief Bio

I am a freelance researcher and consultant, and honorary editor of the peer reviewed journal Nomadic Peoples (since 2010). I have a hybrid background. I started with studying philosophy in Italy (Bologna). Then I moved to the UK to study anthropology of development. I worked for a few years at the Institute of Development Studies doing research on pastoralism in East Africa, with Jeremy Swift, starting from Turkana (Kenya) and Karamoja (Uganda). Eventually I did a PhD in development studies with a research on cattle breeding amongst the Peul Wodaabe in Niger, one of the most specialised groups of mobile pastoralists in the world.

For the last 14 years I worked on pastoralism as a freelance, engaging with the whole spectrum of pastoral development agencies, from grassroots pastoral associations and local NGOs, to governmental, international and Bretton Wood organisations.

I have had a long collaboration with the International Institute for Environment and Development (UK), with which I developed the ‘Valuing Variability’ concept and I prepared a MOOC on ‘pastoralism in development’.

I also had long collaborations with the German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (DITSL), and with Tufts University (US) working on pastoralism in Sudan.

Since 2014, I have helped Misereor (Germany) and their partners in Ethiopia to build their capacity to work with people in pastoral systems. This has led to the publication of the Pastoral Development Orientation Framework, an online tool to help the critical analysis of the 2020 Ethiopia pastoral development policy; and the shortest introduction to pastoralism, a 2 minute animation developed in partnership with Vétérinaires sans Frontières Belgium and CELEP (the Coalition of European Lobbies for Eastern African Pastoralism).

Other main professional achievements include the evaluation of twenty years of water development interventions in pastoral regions of Chad by the French Development Agency (AFD), the joint evaluation FAO’s and IFAD’s Engagement in Pastoral Development (2003-2013), and the evaluation of the FAO-based Pastoralist Knowledge Hub. I have been the lead author of IFAD’s first How to do Note on Engaging with Pastoralists, the FAO paper Pastoralism: Making Variability Work and the GIZ Technical Background Paper: Pastoralism and Resilience of Food Production in the Face of Climate Change.

I have worked with pastoralists in Niger, Chad, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and Mongolia. I am committed to a trans-disciplinary perspective, which I have used in research on issues of conflict, education, livelihood and policy analysis, pastoral mobility, and total economic evaluation of pastoral systems. Current research interests focus on the use of environmental variability by dryland production systems, and the gap between drylands/pastoral development theory and methodologies.

A free MOOC on ‘Pastoralism in development’, designed and realised by me in partnership with a team at the International Institute for Environment and development (IIED), was launched in January 2023.

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