Reinforcement of pastoral civil society in Africa
Many people believe that the crisis facing pastoralists in Africa is a result of their production system. Extensive pastoralism, characterised by seasonal mobility of livestock in search of nutritious pasture over the rangeland, is widely believed to be uneconomic, to lead to desertification, to spread disease and to contribute to conflict. Taking these assumptions as fact, the call is for pastoralists to change their system, “to modernise” and settle down. Alternatively, governments annex pastoral land for other uses such as conservation or commercial farming.
Although pastoral systems are increasingly failing to provide sustainable livelihoods, this in large measure is a direct result of inappropriate policy and development interventions. Governments’ poor understanding of pastoralism combined with the inability of pastoral groups to influence the decisions that affect their lives and to hold government to account is perpetuating a vicious circle of pastoral poverty and conflict, thereby reinforcing the very preconceptions underpinning inappropriate policy directives for pastoral development in much of Africa.
To break this “cycle of failure”, we have been supporting a series of projects to build the capacity of pastoral groups in East and West Africa to understand, engage with and ultimately challenge the overall policy framework regulating their livelihood systems. This process has focused on the design and implementation of a training programme on Pastoralism and Policy in French, English and African languages. A two-week training course is the cornerstone of the programme, which, with regional modifications, broadly consists of two Modules: Module 1 presents and analyses the dynamics of pastoral systems. It provides arguments backed by scientific evidence to show how pastoralism is a “system” regulated by ecology and complex modes of social, political and economic organisation with livelihood and risk-spreading strategies well adapted to ensuring high productivity in dryland environments.
Module 2 analyses the policy challenges and options for pastoralism focusing on how successive policies have sought to either alienate pastoral land for other uses and/or to modernise pastoral systems, nearly all with disastrous effects. The module looks specifically at current reforms with respect to land and natural resource management within the context of national poverty reduction strategies, decentralisation and increasing privatisation and foreign investment, and the constraints and opportunities these present for pastoral communities. The module enables participants to identify and analyse the key premises underpinning these policies and to generate arguments and alternative policy options based on what they have learnt in Module 1. As such, this module builds on Module 1 in a practical way by equipping participants to participate in policy dialogue in an informed and “positive” manner.
Helen de Jode, Ced Hesse
Across Tanzania, climate change is being felt in the changing patterns and intensity of rainfall, and in the growing unpredictability of the seasons. The drylands are being increasingly affected, and there is an urgent need to strengthen institutional capacity and good governance for drylands planning.
Pastoralism provides over 90% of the meat and milk products consumed nationally in Tanzania. The pastoralist production system successfully exploits and adapts to the disequilibrium in the dryland ecosystems, but pastoralist voices are frequently excluded from the decision-making and management of dryland resources. The marginalisation of pastoralists is resulting in falling production levels.
Since 2007, IIED, the Kimmage Development Studies Centre and the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum have been undertaking a project with their partners with the specific goal of generating more informed and equitable discussion and debate on pastoralism. Using local government reform processes, the ‘Strengthening Voices’ project works at the community, local government and national levels - addressing the lack of knowledge and power imbalances within all three.
The central pillar of the project is a training course on the economic and ecological processes at the heart of pastoral systems — clarifying the rationale that underpins livelihood strategies. National politicians, local district officials and community participants have all benefited from the training.
At the end of its 1st three-year phase good progress has been made in designing and implementing tools and approaches that promote citizen access to decision-making. With their new evidence, training and advocacy skills, people are now better able to inform policy of the economic and environmental benefits of dryland livelihood systems.
See also Tanzania Natural Resource Forum