Former Projects

GL-CRSP Livestock Marketing in Kenya and Ethiopia (PI)

Livestock marketing is critical to development of arid and semi-arid lands in Kenya and Ethiopia.  Donors are showing renewed interest in funding livestock marketing activities.  Livestock market improvement offers the potential to reduce poverty in areas that are identified as the poorest in these countries.  Such activities also allow donors to move from a “relief” mode to a “development” mode in dryland areas, as there is growing frustration with dryland activities being in permanent “relief” mode.  However, the research community is not currently able to provide donors with clear and specific information to use in designing livestock marketing activities.  It is not at all clear how research findings at the macro, meso, and micro levels are to be reconciled and used in program design.  It is also not clear how markets should be designed to meet marketing needs in both “normal” and “crisis” periods. What is missing is an overall sense of how interventions at different levels of the economy and under what prevailing conditions fit together spatially and over time, how they should be prioritized, and how they should be sequenced.  While changes at all levels are needed, where should we start?  How will changes at one level influence changes at a different level?  Are any types of interventions pre-conditions for success of other interventions?  Most specifically, can we be sure that changes in the market structure at higher levels will lead to poverty reduction at the household level?  Can we be sure that potential benefits to changed market conditions at the local level will not be unobtainable due to blockages at higher levels?  Can we identify policies at the international level that will encourage trade, or are currently inhibiting trade?  Can we be sure that market interventions designed for normal times are flexible enough to address needs in crisis periods?  The goal of this project is to begin developing an understanding of livestock marketing in Kenya and Ethiopia.  The outcome will be the publication of these various insights, and the provision of a set of recommendations to donors interested in livestock market development. Project efforts involved holding a priority setting workshop in Nairobi in August 2003.  The proceedings of the August 11-13, 2003 workshop held in Nairobi are available at:  This led to the commissioning of a set of chapters leading to the publication in 2006 of the book Pastoral Livestock Marketing in Eastern Africa: Research and Policy Challenges, ITDG press, edited by John McPeak and Peter Little.

GL-CRSP Pastoral Risk Management Project (co-PI)

The PARIMA project was established in 1997 and ran until 2008.  The PARIMA project conducted research, training, and outreach in an effort to improve the welfare of pastoral and agro-pastoral peoples with a focus on northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. Foundation concepts of the PARIMA project included the exploration of opportunities to better diversify incomes and assets and how to improve access to natural resources, information, and various public services. Creating market linkages for pastoralists is a large component of PARIMA’s work to protect against risk and bolster economic security. PARIMA also facilitated the development of pastoral women’s groups, building the capacity of women to manage their resources, identifying key opportunities for investment and designing systems of banking that work in their communities. Briefs and other documents available at:,


BASIS-CRSP Rural Markets, Natural Capital, and Dynamic Poverty Traps in East Africa (team member)

Recent empirical studies using longitudinal data find that a disturbingly large share of the world’s poor suffer chronic rather than transitory poverty (Grootaert et al. 1997, Carter and May 1999, 2000). They appear trapped in a state of perpetual food insecurity and vulnerability due to poor asset endowments and factor market failures, especially for capital, that preclude their efficient investment in or use of productive assets. Moreover, those caught in a poverty trap have strong incentives to deplete natural capital in order to sustain human capital (Perrings 1989). Partly as a
consequence, nearly two-fifths of the world’s agricultural land is seriously degraded and the figure is highest and growing in the poorest areas of Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank 2000, WRI 2000). Such degradation only aggravates pre-existing poverty traps, by discouraging capital poor smallholders from investing in maintaining, much less improving, the natural resource base on which their future livelihoods depend (Reardon and Vosti 1995, Barrett 1996, Carter and May 1999, McPeak and Barrett forthcoming). The resulting degradation of the local ecosystem further lowers agricultural labor productivity, aggravating the structural poverty trap from which smallholders cannot easily escape. This project’s focus on poverty traps and their agroecological consequences and etiology thus squarely addresses two of the global constraints emphasized by the broader BASIS CRSP, those that “Trap Poor Households in Cycles of Food Insecurity, Economic Shocks and Unproductive Accumulation” and those that impede “Coordinated and Sustainable Use of Environmentally Sensitive Resources.” This project will employ a research design intended to capture household and location variation by examining market access and underlying agroecological conditions in Kenya and Madagascar. We will combine quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis with simulations based on bioeconomic modeling in order to identify and document effective


AMAREW , working with an Ethiopian researcher on livestock crop interactions in the area of Debre Berhan, Ethiopia. (mentor)

AMAREW is a USAID-funded, Virginia Tech-led project that supports agricultural research and extension, watershed management, and micro-enterprise development in 13 food-insecure areas of the Amhara National Regional State. It does this by institutionalizing a participatory, community-driven development approach. AMAREW works to upgrade human resource capacities among regional and community service providers through an on-farm research program. The pilot watershed management areas in this project serve as sites for integrating research, extension, and micro-enterprise development efforts.