External dynamics and processes have long affected the Lower Atbara area of Sudan, and have irreversibly transformed nomadic pastoral livelihood systems. In the context of resource scarcity and recurring conflicts, this paper analyses how Rashâyda pastoralists from Um Sayâla responded to challenges to their pastoral production. As relative newcomers to Sudan, the Rashâyda represent a peculiar case because their access to pastoral resources has been challenged since their arrival in Sudan. But in times of crisis, such as the drought of 1985, their traditionally strong ties to the Gulf States served them as a buffer, mitigating the negative effects of the crisis. This paper highlights five biographies, which reveal individual responses to the catastrophic drought and their outcomes. It concludes by discussing how the Rashâyda tackled the competition for sparse resources and resource contractions in times of crisis, and reveals some internal and external consequences for the group.