On my last day in Nairobi, I just came across this Al Jazeera video on Kenyan pastoralists. It reminded me that despite of Kenya being so much more developed than Ethiopia (Nairobi really feels like the New York of Africa), in drought prone areas the issues are similar.
I guess the story of this Kenyan pastoralist should remind us, that the economic concepts that we usually apply on crop land in the wet tropics (and corresponds to the mainstream economic theory) should not be transferred to the pastoral zone (see post on economics of droughts,http://catherinepfeifer.blogspot.com/2011/10/some-good-explanations-on-economics-of.html).
In the Blue Nile basin, land certification, that is giving the (individual) ownership of the land for 20-99 years to a farmer,, resulted in having more farmers starting to invest into soil and water conservation infrastructure (terrace, bund) and planting trees. As a result watersheds are better managed and agricultural productivity increases.
This video shows that transferring this logic to pastoralist zone where land that has traditionally be managed collectively mainly leads to conflicts. Despite of this, I still believe that land in pastoralist zone should be certified quickly at least for the Ethiopian case, where "land grabbers" are queuing for getting the land (http://catherinepfeifer.blogspot.com/2011/07/rights-of-ethiopian-pastoralists.html).
I think there is scope for developing a land tenure system that garantees to pastoralists the access to their land, but does not hamper them to mange it in their traditional way.