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Over the past two decades, the rangelands of Eastern Africa have experienced sweeping changes associated with growing human populations, shifting land use, expanding livestock marketing and trade, and greater investment by domestic and global capital. These trends have coincided with several large shocks that were turning points for how rangeland inhabitants make a living. As livelihoods in the region’s rangelands transform in seemingly paradoxical directions, away from customary pastoralist production systems, greater insight is required of how these transformations might affect poverty and vulnerability. This article reviews the state of what is known regarding directions of livelihood change in the rangelands of Eastern Africa, drawing on case studies of structural change in five settings in the region. It considers the implications of long-term change, as well as the emergence of very different livelihood mixes in pastoral rangelands, for efforts to reduce poverty and vulnerability in these places.
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