Chance, change and choice in Africa's drylands: A new perspective on policy priorities?
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This paper focuses on policy dimensions in improving the livelihoods of the inhabitants of Africa's drylands, who account for an estimated 40 percent of the continent's population. It draws attention to the fact that past policies have failed because they focused on the presumed limitations of the natural resource base rather than on the dryland people themselves, their knowledge, skills and capacity. The paper details the contribution of dryland people to the local and national economies, stating that their activities are characterized by innovation and experimentation, both in the use of natural resources and in exploiting livelihood opportunities elsewhere. The author advocates a shift away from policies that view the drylands as unproductive or low potential wastelands, to recognize their contribution and supporting opportunities for sustaining livelihoods.