Many policy makers in East Africa have pre-conceptions about the value of pastoralism, believing it economically inefficient and environmentally destructive yet there is no evidence to support these pre-conceptions. Generally the mechanisms in place are not appropriate to inform government decision making about pastoralism; existing national statistics are inadequate and inaccurate. E.g. direct values of pastoralist production (meat, milk, hides etc) are often not accounted, and indirect values of pastoralism (sustainable land use, tourism) are not captured. The result is that governments undervalue pastoralism. The document describes how pastoralism is a dynamic and diverse livelihood system. Pastoralism is also a rational economic system maximising returns from investments. The paper proposes a new conceptual framework for assessing the value of pastoralism, which provides insight into its contribution to poverty reduction, sustainable environmental management and the economic development of dry-lands in the context of climate change.