Drylands are perceived as areas with low economic potential with their population being marginalized. This contrasts the traditional wealth and power of communities in these areas. Regional policy makers need to recognize the value of activities performed in drylands.
Livelihoods in drylands depend highly on the ecosystem and its biodiversity. Much of the commercial transactions take place inside the communities and not though external markets. Many products are consumed domestically, so that their true economic value is not captured.
Moreover, pastoralism provides valuable ecosystem services whose economic value, while not captured in the current national accountability systems, has the capacity to sustain the livelihoods of non-pastoralists also living in their drylands, as well as the potential to generate income in the future.
Many of the alternatives offered for dryland development just take into account the short-term economic profit, but not the sustainability of these activities in the long term. The short-term approaches do not only lead to the disruption of ecosystem processes and to environmental degradation, but also to the degradation of the livelihoods that depend on the conservation of biodiversity and to the loss of opportunities for economic development.
When developing action strategies in drylands, policymakers should understand that simple solutions are not likely to be the best answer to complex questions such as the ones faced in development
This study offers guidelines for development options in situations that range from highly populated, close to market humid areas, to the usually most neglected areas that have a low population density, are far from markets and have an arid climate.