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SPARC: Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises

Image credit:International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

What is SPARC?

Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises (SPARC) is a six-year programme which informs more feasible and cost-effective policies and investments in the drylands of Africa and the Middle East.  It was commissioned by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the UK and co-managed by Cowater, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), ODI and Mercy Corps.

Featured work

How can development partners support food security in protracted crises?

For the UK Global Food Security Summit (20 November 2023), SPARC researchers Simon Levine and Steve Wiggins reflect on how to bolster food security in countries affected by conflict and protracted crises. This brief offers five key lessons from research in the Sahel, Syria and Yemen: mostly semi-arid areas subject to protracted crises and conflict, sometimes exacerbated by natural disasters, where food crises and food emergencies threaten.

Read the brief

Ploughing with cattle in southwestern Ethiopia.

Looking at resilience finance in fragile and conflict-affected situations

Climate change is already posing increasingly intense disruptions to lives and livelihoods in the drylands of Africa and the Middle East - yet these areas often receive the least finance, investment and climate action, despite having some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable people. SPARC research analyses the barriers to accessing finance and advancing the climate agenda in conflict-affected countries.

Transboundary climate risks and regional adaptation planning in the drylands

SPARC research has also looked at regional climate risks and adaptation priorities, namely, supporting enhanced understanding of transboundary climate risks in Africa and how to manage them, including a focus on the climate risks facing pastoralists. This work, which has already fed into discussions at the 2023 African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and the Africa Climate Summit, will also be important to discussions within the UNFCCC, particularly its work agreeing on a framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation.

What does resilience look like for pastoralists, agropastoralists and farmers?

How can aid best support and improve pastoralists’, agro-pastoralists’ and farmers’ resilience in a sustainable way? Although ‘building resilience’ now attracts huge investment, little is known about the impacts of most externally funded resilience-building efforts on food security and poverty.

SPARC research has shed some light on the barriers to anticipatory action and resilience-building efforts in regions like the Horn of Africa, where crises are complex, protracted and set across wide geographies.

Understanding markets in the drylands

Livestock marketing and trade are critical elements of pastoral livelihood systems and are becoming an increasing focus of investment and aid interventions. But while selling livestock from the drylands can be lucrative, marketing can also be hit by shocks, such as livestock disease, drought and Covid-19-related restrictions. SPARC researches the structure, functioning and performance of livestock supply chains to understand: how can we better understand pastoral markets and support them to become more effective, economical, equitable and resilient?

Webinar | Pastoralists on social media: harnessing the power of influencers for impactful campaigns

In January 2023, the SPARC Innovation Research Facility partnered with Wowzi to explore how pastoralists engage on social media in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria and how this can be unlocked for information and product campaigns and generate new streams of income.


  1. What the case of Somalia can show us about financing climate action in conflict-affected countries

  2. The role of Development Finance Institutions in addressing food security in vulnerable contexts

    Research reports

  3. How to ensure the Global Food Summit takes us forward – and not back to the past

  4. How can development partners support food security in protracted crises?

    Briefing/policy papers

  5. Climate-resilient development for Somalia

    Research reports

  6. Financing climate adaptation in fragile states: A case of Somalia

    Briefing/policy papers

  7. How can Africa manage the transboundary climate risks it faces?

    Briefing/policy papers

  8. Farming after fighting

    Research reports

  9. Transboundary climate risks to African dryland livestock economies

    Briefing/policy papers

  10. Food prices in Mali and Sudan

    Briefing/policy papers

  11. Somalia: Anticipatory Action in Advance of 'Wicked Crises'

    Briefing/policy papers

  12. Nigeria: Some land tenure insecurity issues in Hayin Ade and Wuro Bappate

    Briefing/policy papers

  13. Rapid Assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

    Emerging analysis

  14. Stabilising the Sahel: Livestock as a driver of regional integration

    Briefing/policy papers

  15. Impacts of disruptions to livestock marketing in Sudan

    Working papers

  16. Financing livestock trade: Formal and informal finance in Kenya, Mali and Somalia

    Research reports

  17. Livelihoods and markets in protracted conflict: a review of evidence and practice

    Literature reviews

  18. Making the concept of resilience in the Sahel more useful

    Briefing/policy papers