Climate change and livestock science-policy interfaces in East Africa

Researchers and policymakers agree that climate change is negatively affecting livestock keepers in east Africa and that livestock production contributes a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions from countries in the region. Discussions around these issues take place in the interface between science and policy, with participants framing problems and solutions in different ways. The goal of this project is to understand how participants in science-policy interfaces interact to inform policymaking processes that affect livestock production and climate action.


Climate change is going to have large effects on the production of livestock in eastern Africa. The impacts will come not just from the biophysical effects of climate change but also in the form of policies that will be formulated in reaction to global processes requiring national adaptation and mitigation interventions. There are multiple ways to frame livestock keeping in eastern Africa, leading to high levels of ambiguity. As researchers generate scientific evidence and policy makers seek to revise or generate policies, the role of science-policy interfaces is crucial in navigating the use of knowledge in policy formulation.


Laura Cramer’s research will examine how scientific evidence is employed by knowledge brokers and used to inform policies related to livestock and climate change in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. There is a growing emphasis on the use of science to inform policy, but the complexities of policy making processes are not always acknowledged. This research will look at the role science-policy interfaces play in facilitating scientists, knowledge brokers and policy makers to address ambiguity and to discuss knowledge and its potential use in developing policies. Using ethnographic methods while embedded in an ongoing action research program of the International Livestock Research Institute, Laura will collect data on the framing used to address ambiguity and the discussions involved to bring together issues, solutions and political will to spur policy change within the livestock sector in eastern Africa.


We’ve found that knowledge brokers use ambiguity around livestock and climate change in strategic ways – depending on the context and the purpose – to achieve their desired goals of bringing actors together to exchange knowledge. They employ different framings depending on whether an adaptation framing or a mitigation framing will yield better results in connecting with scientists and policymakers. Strategic use of different framings helps navigate the ambiguity around climate change and livestock issues and creates room for dialogue between different sets of actors at different times.