Accepted paper:

Governing pastoralists through food security programme: the case of productive safety net programme as a local reproduction of (anti-)pastoralist development policies in Ethiopia's Somali region


Getu Demeke Alene (Wageningen University and Research)
Han van Dijk (African Studies Centre Leiden)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Programme has become an "effective" technology of governing Somali pastoralists by being, in practice, complicit in the government's (anti-)pastoralist development policies: sedentarization, agriculture and social infrastructure expansion.

Paper long abstract:

Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) is a "transformative" food security programme, coupled with social security. It marks a shift from direct food aid to an integrated food security programme focusing on poverty reduction and livelihood enhancement by prioritizing the interests and realities of local communities. This, in a pastoralist context, means helping pastoralists to make their livelihoods resilient to climatic shocks without violating their economic and cultural rights within a mobile-based pastoralism. In this view, PSNP is distinct from Ethiopia's government broader (anti-)pastoralist development policy which is informed by conventional views of pastoralism as irrational, unviable and traditional way of life. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Ethiopia's Somali region, this paper, however, shows how PSNP has been, with counterproductive consequences, become a tool and readily available resource for translating the latter into practice in terms of sedentarization, agriculture and social infrastructure expansion. Doing so, PSNP has become an "effective" technology of extending state power to pastoralist peripheries, of (re)producing socio-political intelligibility, and of shaping the lifestyles, settlement/landscape and livelihood of pastoralists. It is argued that the case in this paper has larger implications for the challenges of implementing "transformative" social policies in the context of unreformed governments' underlying ideologies regarding (pastoral) development. While "transformative" social policies, such as PSNP, have recently got popularity and attract enormous resources, these resources might in practice be opportunities for and feed into the implementation of competing, mainstream development policies towards socio-political control of citizens.

panel M5
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