Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


Section three of this report proposes an integrated policy agenda which establishes, in spite of the need for further investigations on some aspects, guidelines for a comprehensive pastoral risk management strategy for livelihood systems in Qinghai similar to those in Jilong and Zeku counties.


A successful programme to reduce pastoral risk and vulnerability in Qinghai means building on and complementing structures and approaches already successfully in place, such as the 4CM, and creating new strategies to enhance the ability of herders and herder communities to manage risk. The policies of the provincial government must encourage such strategies.

The project identified twelve strategies directly relevant to pastoral risk and vulnerability in the pilot areas and Qinghai province as a whole. The range of these issues goes beyond the scope of the original TCP design which had, during project preparation, identified a more limited number of key issues; these were researched by the TCP and presented in depth in section 2 of this report. It is nevertheless crucial to consider in the PRM policy agenda a broader picture as outlined by the twelve complementary strategies presented below. It is important to highlight how inter-connected the strategies in different technical fields are. Reducing pastoral vulnerability to risk in south eastern Qinghai will depend on an interlinked and coordinated implementation of all the strategies in several technical disciplines.

This chapter presents the key elements of the proposed provincial pastoral risk management agenda for adoption by the provincial authorities. The involvement of all levels of decision-making in drafting and approving the strategy was important, because implementation will depend on wide agreement and understanding of the objectives and means of risk management.

The proposed agenda is composed of 5 mutually reinforcing components, each presented as a set of strategies. They are:






The agenda was discussed in detail and endorsed by the project TCP wrap up workshop involving high level representatives from provincial prefecture, county and village level. It should be finally endorsed by herder co-operative groups where they exist or are being formed. The capacity of all these organisations to manage a successful risk management strategy will need to be strengthened.


Strategy 1: Measuring and monitoring grazing resources

Standing hay at the end of the growing season in September/October is the chief component of winter feed for livestock, and, taken together with estimates of livestock numbers and physical conditions, determines whether the following winter/spring will be easy or difficult for pastoral households. Measuring or estimating this standing crop is an essential part of a risk management strategy.

A simple and rapid method of estimating standing forage availability at the end of the growing season, combining visual information with basic measurements, is needed for quick and accurate estimates of the current situation, and is a key part of a pastoral forecasting system. Such a method should be suitable for use by local technicians and experienced herders. Standardised reporting and handling of results will allow forecasts to be made on whether winter feed shortages are likely, and their possible severity.

A system of pasture monitoring has been in place in Qinghai for over a decade and has built up sound databases of information on grassland yield and growth patterns. The techniques used are labour-intensive so the number of sites which can be dealt with is limited; this prevents adequate cover of the various pasture types and quick assessment of standing herbage in autumn over a wide area which is required for risk assessment.

The project developed a methodology (RAPS) to collect and process these data much faster and more efficiently than systems currently in use. Together with an electronic pasture probe, used in conjunction with classical sampling, the RAPS system would allow standing herbage to be measured and analysed at a great number of sites very quickly; a probe was acquired by the project but arrived too late in 2005 for training in its use by the international consultant.

Recommended actions are:

· Introduce pastoral resource assessments based on RAPs methodology

As described in chapter 2 of this report, the project developed an innovative approach to resource assessment in pastoral systems (RAPS). RAPS software can integrate grassland, livestock and climatic data, can provide accurate forecasting of threats to the herding economy, and can trigger pre-planned reactions.

The project recommends that RAPS should be adopted by the AAHB as a primary tool for information collection and analysis in pastoral risk management. RAPS should be integrated into the Bureau’s routine work at provincial and lower levels. It should not be treated as a separate, parallel programme.

For RAPS to reach its full potential, more, or more accurate, information is needed: mapping of vegetation types; verification of livestock numbers; and greater sampling cover for vegetation analysis.

· Pasture mapping

The areas of different pasture types and their emplacement are not well known. Mapping the Qinghai grasslands using available remote sensing and GIS technology is urgent and will provide a baseline for use of the pasture probe and other methods to give a more accurate assessment of grassland yields.

· Use of pasture probe

An electronic pasture probe should be used in conjunction with classic methods of herbage assessment.

· Training

Further training and practical experience will be needed to make the RAPS system operational. If the system is accepted province-wide as a useful way to gather and analyse data on pastoral systems, substantial training will be needed at field level to collect production and use data, as well as in the analysis. Further training will be facilitated by use of the user manual and the software, both of which exist in English and Chinese, developed by the project. Further training is needed especially on the use of the pasture probe and the use of RAPS software.

· Establish and maintain a regularly updated data base on livestock and pasture:

Present livestock numbers and grassland components and types are not well known, and existing statistics are very unreliable. Without more accurate numbers and a regular update, it will be impossible to plan in detail for the improvement of pastoral livelihoods and environmental conservation. In addition, accurate data on animal numbers and distribution are the essential basis for planning a vaccination strategy.

The priority is for a detailed and comprehensive census of livestock, taken at regular intervals. The census should be based on a sample household survey, with cross checking of official statistics. The AHHB should investigate the utility, in Qinghai circumstances, of short-cut methods such as low level aerial survey.

Strategy 2: Managing grasslands

The grassland use pattern is directly impacted by the pastoral land tenure and use right. The current grassland tenure rules arising from the dual responsibility system introduced in 1985, have had a far reaching impact on the herding economy. The grassland tenure system put in place in the early 1990s has many advantages, and some disadvantages.

Recommended actions to further improve the current grassland management system:

· Systematic review of the current land tenure policy and its impact on grassland management

In the project area, 50 year, non-rolling leases were issued in 1999. They run out in 2049. Some land inheritance, transfers of land and sub-leasing takes place, but it is essentially a closed system. People can leave and sub-let their land to others already in the system, but there can be no new entrants or major changes in and allocation before the leases run out, unless new legislation is passed.

Now would be a good moment to review the tenure system and the fencing of pasture which has followed. The lessons are important not only for the TCP, but also on a much larger scale for the Three River project, and the Qinghai Lake project, in both of which pastoral land tenure should be a central issue. There needs to be a review of experience in operating the 1985 grazing act, the tenure aspects of the 4CM and similar programmes. The functioning of the pasture lease system over the last twenty years and its contribution to risk reduction are key topics. Tenure issues specifically concerning a long term PRM strategy include:

- length and content of leases;

- problems which have arisen so far

- whether rolling leases[11] would provide more security to herders and encourage more private investment;

- investigate whether new legal provisions are needed to regulate transfer of leases, including inheritance and sub-leasing;

- investigate whether there is a need for new forms of lease conditionality, for example maintaining ecological quality in the leased area, or preparing and adopting a local risk management plan?[12]

- investigate the impact of different types of pasture land lease on risk management?

- move towards a legal framework for the changes now under way: eg

- recognise in law the growth of pasture renting provisions between individuals or community groups and encourage renting systems

- deal with equity issues such as access to water located on land parcels allocated to individuals.

· Formulation and implementation of amendment regulations

New proposals about how best to manage pasture tenure might include:

- An extension of the areas of pooled and collectively managed winter-spring grazing, within which there should be a place for small fenced household winter grazing reserves. If small groups organise to pool and jointly manage their winter-spring pastures, fencing costs would be reduced considerably.

- Local grassland management regulations might be formulated and implemented at the autonomous prefecture level in reference to The Grassland Law of 1985[13] for effectively dealing with these issues. Regular inspection of implementation status of grassland management regulations should be carried out by county grassland station and upper level governmental law inspection institutions.

- Encourage inter-household and inter-community transfer of grassland use rights by concluding lease contract against compensation payment.

- wrap up the grassland use rights, responsibilities for grassland management and vegetation protection obligations together as legal amendments to the current grassland lease contract.

- Encourage and enable herder cooperatives to play more coordination roles in community grassland management, especially in mediating resource utilization conflict.

· Reserve winter grazing areas

At present some households have on their own initiative created small fenced and manured grassland reserves close to their winter house. These should be encouraged, but with care that too large an area is not fenced off.

Most serious disaster-caused economic losses occurred for the households with large number of livestock and limited winter pasture for emergency grazing. In Zeku, households with limited pastoral resource and large number of animals rented grassland for over winter and emergency grazing from households with relative large grasslands and a small number of livestock and neighbouring townships closed to Zeku county town. These practice should be encouraged by the county AAHB and the village committee.

· Improving grassland productivity

It is unlikely that herders will spontaneously reduce herd size, without adequate direct or indirect compensation. At present stocking rates there is general agreement that there is little scope to improve animal productivity by better pasture management alone. Irrigated grassland is not a suitable option for herders in the project area and breaking open grassland to sow pasture is officially discouraged for environmental reasons. Reseeding of severely degraded land may be possible, but not in the short term.

In these circumstances, productivity gains will have to come primarily through a mix of activities, only some of which are directly related to pastoral tenure: an extension of the areas of pooled and collectively managed winter-spring grazing, within which there should be a place for small fenced household winter grazing reserves; increased haymaking; and use of supplementary feed including concentrates. One further area where there might be productivity gains from pasture management is in the balance of use between summer and winter pastures, the first being sometimes underused and the latter often overused

· Improved control of soil degradation

Black beach soil formation follows a sequence of sedge degradation, rodent burrowing, wind and water erosion, sedge mortality and increased bare ground, root shearing by frost heaving, and continued wind and water erosion.

Seriously degraded grassland should be re-vegetated, grazing density on moderately degraded grassland should be reduced to allow natural regeneration of the grasses and moderately degraded grassland should be disk-harrowed to loosen soil to allow natural regeneration; livestock grazing should be controlled on lightly degraded. Black beach rehabilitation using these methods has a productive stand life between five and eight years. The reseeding alone is not enough and fundamental changes in grazing management will be required to avoid recurrence of degradation. This is the sort of task a herders’ association or cooperative can undertake effectively.


Strategy 3: Household based feed and fodder production

Growing and conserving hay and other fodders and purchasing concentrates are key risk management activities for households. In the current household contracted pastoral land tenure, a household based feed and fodder production system for winter preparation should be established.

Recommended actions are:

· Intensified oats production for haymaking

Hay should be a part of the normal feeding routine, and households should aim to incorporate hay growing, making and storage into their seasonal cycle. Government should promote this idea through all the extension outlets available to it.

Herders in the project area are being encouraged to grow oats for hay as part of the government’s four counter-measure programme. Oats are the most suitable fodder and have been widely used in high altitude herder extension work elsewhere in the province. Government strategy is to encourage the growing of oats in walled sheep pens in summer. The target figure is one third of a hectare (five mu) per household; this is rarely attained and most sheep pens are smaller than 5 mu, some small ones only a little over half a mu. At present the contribution of sown fodder to the overall feed availability in the project area is very small but there is considerable potential to provide more conserved fodder for use in periods of stress. The herders have no experience of cultivation or haymaking and a considerable effort in demonstration and training will be needed before they reach competence. While ploughing of open grassland to sow fodder is actively discouraged for environmental reasons there should be no objection to expanding fodder plots close to the homestead, or taking a small part of the winter pasture and re-fencing for fodder production purpose.

· Manure application for fodder production

In the project area some herders have started to enclose (with wire netting) small private grassland reserves close to their winter camps. They manure the natural pasture inside the pens, and are getting good yields. This should be encouraged.

· Intensified use of feed concentrates

Concentrates are available in market places and are part of most herders’ winter feeding routine. Herders should be encouraged to continue purchasing fodder concentrates in accordance with the annual winter risk forecasting system proposed in strategy 7. Government should monitor the supply of concentrates in accordance with the forecast of winter conditions. During severe crisis cash loans may be made to herders from the emergency cash funds held at county level to enable them to buy fodder.

Coordinated wholesale purchase of concentrates and joint transportation by herder’s groups or herder’s cooperatives should be encouraged.

· Provision of technical services and training to households on fodder production

Since herders lack essential techniques and skills in fodder production, county AAHB and grassland stations should provide extension and training services to herders. The following services should be provided:

- technical training on oats cultivation and haymaking;
- technical advice during the preparation of the pens or plots and the growing season of oats;
- oats seeds to herder households

Strategy 4: Fodder markets, fodder banks and emergency fodder funds

Hay and fodder production should be encouraged at the level of individual households. On the basis of past experience, village fodder banks are unlikely to be successful in Qinghai circumstances and should not be pursued. Herders already buy concentrates but the quantities vary widely without relation to herd size. Purchased fodder is part of the routine feeding system, and the development of fodder markets should be encouraged in participation with herder’s cooperatives and under support of local government.

Recommended actions are:

· Strategic use of emergency fodder stocks

Under normal weather conditions, central or local government should not hold emergency fodder stocks. Hay is a bulky fodder of relatively low feed value; it is expensive to transport and store and it is not cost-effective to transport it over large distances. Households should produce and hold their own private hay reserves if the hay is produced locally.

Emergency fodder stocks may be constituted by local government at a higher level in the administration (county or prefecture) as part of a risk management strategy. They should contain high nutritive value feeds, such as bran and concentrates. Rules for management, release and turnover of government emergency stocks need to be established. Management of such emergency reserves to make them sustainable and responsive to the emergency need is complex. Effective and precise early warning is an instrument for increasing the degree of responsiveness of the emergency fodder supply.

Buying and storing extra concentrates for winter to form a county or prefecture fodder reserve should only be undertaken if the autumn pastoral risk forecast is pessimistic about the prospects for the coming winter-spring period. Even well-stored forage deteriorates quite rapidly if not used. Storage by groups would be even more problematical than by households.

· Support development of fodder markets

Concentrates and agro-industrial residues are readily available on the market in the farming areas of eastern Qinghai counties. Provincial, prefecture and county governments should incorporate fodder market development into the regional development planning and formulate preferential policies to encourage fodder trading between the eastern farming and pastoral areas. Herders’ cooperatives should also be encouraged to provide services to their members in wholesale fodder purchase.

· Emergency cash fund

The best option for reacting to emergency animal feed needs would be to have an emergency cash fund at county headquarters as a part of a coherent risk management system. Herders could draw on such a fund for loans for advance purchases if the risk forecast signals a severe risk of feed shortages in the following three to five months. County-level authorities should be able to call on the same fund to constitute a publicly-managed county level emergency stock. The dangers of this course of action - rapid physical deterioration of such reserves, and ‘routinisation’ (every year becomes a disaster year and the emergency stock becomes a normal part of seasonal feed deficit management by the local authority) - mean it should be approached with great care.


Good herders have for generations paid close attention to the breeding of their animals to promote resilience to extreme weather, and are skilful at this. Herders keep local breeds of livestock but, over the past twenty years, the average weight and productivity of their animals has apparently dropped.

According to project findings, the following reasons may be involved in declining productivity:

Strategy 5: Animal production and breeding

The classic livestock interventions will continue to be the main work of both herders and technicians. The control of contagious diseases must continue. Other interventions must be directed at having stock in good condition in autumn to better withstand the lean, cold season. Parasite control is important to ensure that stock benefit from grazing. Herders should give full attention to selecting breeding stock (locally) and culling poor performers as well as marketing excess stock before winter. Many herders now have stock shelters at their winter quarters which assist in protecting small-stock from winter cold.

Recommended actions for improving animal productivity and breeding practice are:

· Innovative breeding strategies:

(1) Within-herd selection: Selection of animals with the best performance and higher resilience to cold weather from within household herds; using the best performing bulls for inter-herd reproduction, locally called "transferring-the-bull breeding scheme". This should be the first breeding strategy for improving production performance;

(2) Hybrid breeding: Introducing genetic resources from other varieties to improve the productivity of yaks and sheep. Such as hybrid breeding, using yaks and yellow cattle, can increase lactation performance. However, acclimatisation to the harsh feed and grazing conditions should be a goal for such inter-variety breeding.

· Piloting‘improved yak and sheep varieties with herders

Improved yak and sheep varieties have been introduced but their performance is not yet known. Experiments started by the project should be continued since the initial signs are hopeful. Genetically improved stock are often more are risk in extreme environments than the native breeds. Any programme to change the genetic makeup of local yak or sheep must be extremely closely monitored for any indication that risk to herders is being increased.

· Creating and using ‘elite’ herds and flocks

The current natural inbreeding practice should be replaced by mating with high performance or ‘elite’ male animals. The creation of elite herds and flocks of genetically superior animals as the basis for spreading access to these genetic resources more widely needs to be supported by new institutions including herder cooperatives. The tasks include setting standards, certification and record keeping, compiling breeding plans, deciding which bulls to castrate, measuring the productivity performance of offspring, planning culling rates for each generation, making criteria for breeding stock selection. Systems appropriate to Qinghai need to be developed.

· Developing multipurpose indicators of animal resilience

Better indicators of animal condition and resilience are needed as part of the winter risk forecast, and as a guide to which animals should be sold or culled if necessary. The main indicator used at the moment in this and other studies is weight gain. While important, weight gain is not the only indicator useful in this respect. Given that the ultimate goal is to improve livestock resilience, there is a need to develop more accurate, probably multipurpose, indicators of resilience. Weight gain could in some circumstances be misleading: heavier animals may be more vulnerable, need more feed, and perform less well on chronic feed shortages.

· Yak and sheep body condition measurements

The methodologies developed by the TCP project for estimating yak and sheep body condition provide a useful guide to rapid methods for the autumn pastoral risk assessment and should be adopted as a part of that assessment. It is recommended that these methods be adopted as the standard methods for use in Qinghai. Information on stock weights is needed for use in RAPS modelling. Rapid estimation of livestock condition, using visual examination and palpation, should be used for this purpose.

· Training

Training courses on how to manage breed improvement are important. Themes would include: how to select the best breeding stock; how to make breeding plans; how to improve breeding stock; alterative ways of increasing the offtake rate; how to evaluate body condition before winter in order to eliminate weak and sick animals in order to reduce grazing pressure.

Strategy 6: Improvement of animal health

Vaccination is the major measure for preventing infectious disease. Five vaccines are provided free of charge by the government (pasteurellosis, anthrax, clostridium, calf paratyphoid, sheep pox). Most animal diseases local to the project area are effectively controlled by the annual vaccination programme. But parasitic diseases are still a serious problem and a major risk for livestock production. The incidence of parasitic disease is still very high, and causes large losses for livestock production, especially in winter and when natural disasters happen: feed shortages weaken the animals, and they then easily get infected by parasites. Large numbers of animals may die.

Recommended actions are:

· Improve the veterinary care system

Herders and planners should accept that the present model of veterinary care is in most ways a reasonable adaptation to scarce resources and to the logistic difficulties of delivering animal health care to a widely dispersed and partly nomadic population. However there may be situations where the veterinary health care system, designed in the collective period when most livestock belonged to the collective, is not fully adapted to the new situation created by the household responsibility system. The willingness of herders to pay for drugs may be an example.

Veterinary care should be strengthened. The role of herder technicians, acting where possible in the context of and with the support of, herder associations, is crucial.

· Disease monitoring and livestock census

At present there is a largely passive system for disease reporting relying on herder technicians and anecdotal reports from herders to warn the veterinary specialists at township and county level of disease outbreaks or chronic persistence. Field surveys are currently mainly on an ad hoc basis.

Accurate and reliable livestock population figures will be an essential input into RAPS and the risk early warning system. A comprehensive livestock census for Qinghai should be carried out as soon as possible. Provision should be made for such a census to take place at regular intervals (between 5 and 10 years), with a regular update between the main censuses.

· Upgrading the skills of herder technicians

The herder veterinary technician system seems, at its best, to work well, given the size of the task and the scarcity of resources. However there are problems which should be addressed urgently. These include:

a. Wide variation in the level and length of training: some have trained for a year, some have no training at all;

b. Herder veterinary technicians are sometimes confronted by an impossible task - in some cases there is one technician for 10,000 livestock;

c. Drug and anti-parasite products are in insufficient supply;

d. Levels of equipment are variable, although mostly low;

e. Salaries are low.

Upgrading the skills of herder veterinary technicians would be a cost-effective way of extending good quality animal health care to herders. This requires more training, including training in disaster early warning and reaction, better equipment, more extension, better salaries and conditions of service, and greater recognition by government and the community.

· Adapting vaccinations to real stock numbers

Vaccination (in which an important role is played by the herder technicians) is at present quite successful in keeping major infectious diseases under control. However there are problems: vaccination is not yet reaching enough animals to guarantee herd immunity, mainly because herders under-report their herd size, and because the herder technicians lack transport, equipment, and motivation to reach all the animals. The success of vaccination in keeping major disease threats at bay in recent years has also led some herders to doubt the importance of vaccination.

To correct for under-reporting of herd size, vaccine supplies should be increased by 20-40 percent over the number of livestock officially enumerated. In the longer run an accurate livestock census is essential. Timely delivery of vaccines to herder technicians is essential; otherwise they find it difficult to complete the vaccination campaign before the period when the disease occurs.

· Timing of parasite control

At present parasite control takes place twice every year - in spring and autumn. This could be replaced in most areas with a single campaign in January, using Ivermectin. A second campaign could be organised only in especially badly infested places in March or April. It is believed this would be a more cost-effective strategy. Herders are now expected to pay for parasite control, which was previously supplied free by government. Many herders are currently unwilling to pay, either because they are too poor or have not yet adjusted to the new economic environment. The government needs to explain the reasons for the charge more clearly to the herders. Herder associations would probably make this task easier

· Better use of veterinary laboratory service

The veterinary laboratory service at all levels (county, prefecture and provincial) is under-utilised. These laboratories are an important resource for animal disease control and should be supported.

· More active role for herders’ associations and family enterprises

Animal health services can be greatly facilitated by herder associations which encourage herders to find joint solutions to their problems. Such associations can capture economies of scale in service provision, and can provide high levels of social capital and mutual support. Upgrading of veterinary services should be planned with this in mind. The AAHB should investigate the degree to which the development of family-based livestock holdings requires different models of disease control and animal breeding from the previous more centralised methods. New types of disease control and veterinary service may need to be established. Sustainable development of drug supplies and services need to be established.

· Herder technicians and veterinary staff involvement in early warning and rapid reaction

Herder technicians and veterinary staff have a critical role to play in planning for and reacting to pastoral risk: in designing and implementing risk prevention and risk management strategies, compiling the annual winter preparedness and risk forecast, contributing to the early warning and rapid reaction system They must be closely involved in these activities from the start.


Strategy 7: Early warning and rapid reaction system for PRM

The main thrust of pastoral risk management is to reduce herder vulnerability and manage long term threats to stability and growth of pastoral communities. However PRM should also be able to counter sudden severe threats to livelihoods. In Qinghai such threats are usually caused by environmental factors such as drought or snow disaster.

Disaster episodes often arise from long term processes through which the pastoral economy is weakened and made more vulnerable. But the trigger to a disaster is more often a sudden exceptional snow storm, or bad snow conditions and very low temperatures over weeks or months, which force households to take emergency measures. These measures will be much more efficient if they have been planned well in advance.

Recommended actions are:

· Develop locally adapted risk assessment and management plans

Based on the project experience of drafting, implementing and evaluating a winter preparation and pastoral risk forecast for Henan and Zeku counties for winter 2004/5, government should further develop and standardise the methodology used to prepare such bulletins, and extend the area covered so that the entire province in covered by such bulletins by 2010.

· Forecast risk of winter-spring feed shortage and other over-winter risk

Using methodologies (especially RAPS when operational) described in strategy 1 of this plan (‘Measuring and monitoring grazing resources’), the government should develop a province-wide system to assess adequacy of grazing and feed reserves for forthcoming winter. The AHHB should operationalise RAPS as soon as possible. Until RAPS data and conclusions become available, it will be necessary to use existing methods to assess pasture and feed adequacy and over-winter prospects. A delay in the full operationalisation of RAPS must not serve as a reason for delaying the development of the pasture monitoring and assessment system.

· Introduce regular winter preparedness and risk forecast bulletins

Winter preparedness reports should be based on comprehensive monitoring by herder groups and local animal technicians of a set of key indicators including, at the household level: livestock condition and health, state of pastures, household feed reserves, state of household winter preparations, likely household winter off-take of livestock. The winter preparedness reports should be prepared at township/county level initially and completed and submitted upwards to the Qinghai Bureau of Animal Husbandry according to a strict annual schedule between September and November. Winter preparedness reports should also contain a long distance weather forecast and a set of early warning signals. On the basis of this information county authorities will declare a particular warning stage for their area. These warning stages (normal, alert, alarm, emergency) will trigger a set of activities appropriate to each stage.

· Adjusting the livestock-feed balance

If the livestock population significantly exceeds the total feed available for the following winter-spring period, herders and local authorities should agree on a course of action, essentially to buy in more feed or reduce animal numbers. Local government at township and county level should take the lead in organising such discussions and implementing the conclusions.

· Emergency responses

A set of appropriate responses, planned in detail in advance and triggered by the early warning stages, should be developed. Responses will be defined in advance of specific threats like frozen snow disasters in consultation with herders and technicians at village, township, county and higher levels.

Responses will include an emergency plan to (i) encourage higher levels of sales of animals by herders by subsidising livestock traders costs or supplementing the sales price directly, (ii) reduce the price of formulated feeds and concentrates; (iii) trigger the opening of a local disaster emergency fund.

Strategy 8: Improved housing and pastoral infrastructures

Through the 4CM programme which includes the support to construction of winter shelters for livestock and of permanent houses for the herders, the Qinghai Provincial government has already paid particular attention to housing and infrastructure for pastoral herders. The PRM agenda strongly recommends the continuation of the programme with some modifications to be included.

Recommended actions

· Better targeting and increased subsidy level for poor households in the context of existing 4CM programme measures

Government should extend the 4CM programme and subsidise up to 100 percent of the cost for poor herding households, starting with the construction of winter barns. The target should be that all households possess a winter barn by the year 2010.

· Include additional elements into the 4CM programme to improve pastoral infrastructures

Poor transportation and communication infrastructures are major constraints for delivering emergency relief to affected households during snow disastesr. 4CM programme should also address and include support to improve pastoral roads to the villages and sub-villages including small bridges, levelling tracks, etc., as well as the communications infrastructures which is important for timely emergency relief, and also for weather broadcasting and early warning;

For that purpose government should increase public investment funds to pastoral areas. Since all pastoral communities are poor and lack community funds, funds for infrastructure improvement should be covered by governmental grant. Herders should contribute their labour to construction of this infrastructure and facilities.

Strategy 9: Promoting herder cooperation

Government has important responsibilities in preparing for and managing risk, but present formal institutions are sometimes inadequate to address the variety of tasks related to PRM in a co-ordinated and efficiently manner. Individual households, on the other hand, lack the flexibility and resources necessary to manage risk effectively and are often particularly vulnerable to risk. Community organisations however are well placed to complement government responsibilities for PRM at local level, since they are closest to the herders or even composed of herders, and can pool resources and capture economies of scale. But community groups on their own can not do everything.

Some formal herder’s cooperatives have been launched in Qinghai during the last few years, which in coordination with local government could take specific responsibilities in PRM. In addition, the TCP found a range of informal herder neighbourhood groups operating on a collaborative basis. With further support and capacity building they have good basic potentials for launching voluntary and trust-based cooperative development among herders. They might provide also an excellent option to promote cooperation based on them demands of herders and white matches the management and other capacities of herders to absorb support from government and donor agencies

Recommended actions are:

· Awareness raising

Cooperative development in project areas is at an early stage and it needs significant further effort and support from provincial and local governments to achieve the targeted objectives. Top down approaches to cooperative development should be avoided since they are often associated with a lack of attention to the identification of needs, as well as to the absorptive and management capacities of beneficiaries. There is a risk of inefficient use of resources including significant government contributions to establish new cooperatives, at least in the short term.

· Promote demonstrations of collaborative actions

Some of the newly established formal cooperatives and informal herders’ organizations have potential as demonstration sites to promote and replicate collaborative actions. They need further support and institutional strengthening and management to develop as demonstration sites.

· Define responsibilities/tasks of local stakeholder groups in PRM

Provincial and local government need explicitly to create a dialogue with herder community organizations and also with informal neighbourhood groups and others to agree on county level PRM strategies and the distribution of responsibilities and tasks between local stakeholder groups, based on comparative advantages and skills required for certain tasks.

· Recognize the importance of informal groups and their comparative advantages

Government at all levels needs to recognise that existing informal groups can provide the basis for expanded collective action and for the formalisation of community organisations.

Other sections of this PRM strategy highlight the TCP assessment that informal groups have good potentials to improve risk management capabilities of herders through information sharing. This is particularly the case of technical issues such as hay making, fodder planting, household preparation, non-herding income generation and social networks covering collaboration between the poor and rich. Local government and field technicians need also to recognise the potential contribution of community organisations to creating more demand-driven government services.

· Training and capacity building

Tailored capacity building and training processes for community organizations to empower them as partners in economic development and PRM need to be designed and implemented.

Training topics should include:

Facilitated discussions between group members using participatory techniques will help to identify priority needs as well as responsibilities of the groups and their individual members, and make them understand how collective actions and PRM would benefit each member.


Strategy 10: Mainstreaming pastoral risk management within a reshaped pastoral economy

If it is to become sustainable, pastoral risk management has to be incorporated into the mainstream of government development strategy and relevant programmes.

The Qinghai livestock economy needs to position itself to take advantage of a likely growth in demand for livestock products arising from increased population growth and urbanisation, the new market opportunities created by the Qinghai - Lhasa railway and new roads; the potential for stratifying animal production between mountain grazing and agro-industrial fattening under which herders produce young animals on grassland, sell for fattening to eastern farming areas of Qinghai (but a price structure that shares the gains equitably between different stages in the chain is difficult to achieve).

There is an urgent need to ensure that the herders’ interests are not ignored in the two major environmental programmes (Three Rivers, Qinghai Lake). The success of those projects depends on positive herder involvement. This requires:

- Development of a new models of sustainable pastoral livelihoods and herder-friendly nature reserves in the 3R region, in which herders are partners in ecological regeneration, not enemies. Planning and designing of major program interventions and relevant policies should involve herders and community stakeholders;

- A multi-stakeholder negotiation mechanism for resource compensation should be established. A voluntary and socio-economically feasible resettlement scheme should be promoted for herders living in the core and buffer zones of 3R (Henan and Zeku county are identified as buffer zone areas) with full compensation;

- Assist herders and pastoral communities who want to leave pastoralism to develop new alternative livelihoods which can conserve the ecological systems and achieve sustainable social and economic development

Recommended actions to achieve this are to:

Strategy 11: Financing pastoral risk management

The best risk reduction strategy in the long term is equitably-distributed economic growth. The prospects for sustained growth in the livestock sector are good, but will require careful planning by the livestock authorities. Worldwide, including China, there is likely to be a sustained increase in demand for livestock products, including those produced by pastoralists in extensive livestock systems. This is because of growing human population; more urbanisation; larger household incomes; more consumption of livestock products. Taken together, this suggests a large growth in demand for livestock products. The Qinghai livestock economy needs to position itself to take advantage of this. Well-designed growth in the livestock economy will reduce pastoral risk substantially but requires support from government and the scientific institutions.

Recommended actions are:

· Increased government investment

The justification for government spending tax revenue from lowland, downstream areas in the sparsely populated mountain watershed areas is that the ecological stability of lowland areas can easily be upset by land misuse in the watershed areas. Increasing floods in the lowlands may be the first sign that such upland changes are already happening.

The following categories of provincial government expenditure are particularly important in the context of pastoral risk management:

- First, further investment in risk mitigation infrastructure (eg winter barns, fodder stores, communications systems, roads and tracks linking remote and vulnerable areas to larger population centres and markets) is essential if remote rural areas are to be protected from natural disasters to the same level as the rest of Qinghai. This process has started - for example through the Four Counter-measures policy - but it has been halted, perhaps temporarily. Because the 4CM policy required matching funding from herders for capital items such as winter barns, in general richer herders were able to benefit, but poorer herders, unable to provide the matching funds, did not benefit. Government needs to redefine the 4CM policy and include within it a subsidy element for poor herder households so they do not fall behind rich households in this respect and become more vulnerable to natural and other disasters.

- The second category of government investment in the pastoral economy concerns the role of subsidies more generally. Subsidy payments to farmers should include an element for supporting the maintenance of particular types and characteristics of landscape. If the government wants to protect the watershed areas in order to secure downstream land uses, and protect towns from flooding, it is right that upstream land users and especially herders should be subsidised to achieve this.

- The third category of essential government expenditure on risk management concerns disaster mitigation and emergency needs. Government needs to explore the best way of creating and managing emergency funds for natural disaster relief.

· Mobilizing private finance

Investment in risk management activities should not only be the responsibility of government. There is an urgent need for private financial initiatives in the risk management field. Government should create an economic and legal environment and institutional support conducive to the growth of micro-finance initiatives, private financial institutions and financial incentives for risk management. Government should also be ready to guarantee rural disaster insurance schemes in the early stages when they are most vulnerable.

· Mobilizing governmental institutional support for financing the PRM

These financial products for supporting the PRM are new concepts for Qinghai, and need to be tried experimentally before being implemented across the whole province. Government needs to act as a back-stop in pilot schemes, providing a guarantee to private sector actors while they develop durable financial products.

Government needs to explore the best way of creating and managing emergency funds for natural disaster relief, including stand-by funds which can be accessed rapidly in an emergency.

Government should create an economic and legal environment and institutional support conducive to the growth of agricultural banks, micro-finance initiatives, private financial institutions and financial incentives for risk management.

Current subsidies may tend to favour richer households. Poorer households may not be able to pay even the subsidised price. Government should examine its subsidy programme to assess (i) what its impact is on risk, (ii) whether subsidies are effectively reaching those people who most need them.

· Set up a transparent PRM fund management system

Subject to the mobilization of resources PRM funds should be established at county, prefecture and provincial levels as part of governmental annual public budget for supporting local PRM actions. Budgeting process and allocation and channels for governmental PRM funds must be operated in a transparent way. An independent fund auditing and monitoring mechanism should be established to insure the funds will be provided to the planned target communities and herders.

Strategy 12: Improving governance for pastoral risk management

Government has important responsibilities in preparing for and managing pastoral risk, but present formal institutions are sometimes inadequate to the task. Community groups also have an essential role to play, in ways that should complement government’s. A review of the ability of government and communities to respond rapidly and efficiently, and in a co-ordinated manner, is needed. A fundamental prerequisite to addressing the demands of herders and communities, is that a bottom-up risk management planning mechanism complements the currently dominant top-down planning approach. A start in this respect has been made. Herders’ representatives, community leaders and representatives of herder cooperatives should be closely involved in the risk management planning process. Government should request that risk impact assessment studies become an integral part of all project preparations that involve herders and other groups chronically exposed to recurrent risks.

Recommended actions are:

· Improve the legal framework

There is a need to design and adopt a legal and policy framework which:

- rewards herders for maintaining and enhancing ecological security in the watershed of 3R, and desired maintains a desired landscape, which is the basis of any major expansion of tourism;

- encourages development of specialized markets for livestock products;

- emphasises quality above quantity in production;

- develops adequate bio-safety procedures;

- develops and protects specific trade marks and copyright regional identities for particular products (eg "Qinghai yak butter".)

· Strengthen governmental functions and capacity in PRM

There is a need to review government’s ability to respond rapidly and efficiently to pastoral risks. The results of the review will contribute to formulating a plan of institutional capacity building for PRM. Institutional capacity building for PRM through staff training and improvement of the institutional facilities should be incorporated into the governmental development programs.

· Build up partnerships between government organizations and herder and community organizations

Provincial and local government need explicitly to create a dialogue with herder community organisations and also with informal neighbourhood groups and others to agree on a PRM strategy initially at county and province level. It should be recognized that the community associations are better equipped to manage some aspects of PRM than government.

· Strengthen stakeholder cooperation and coordination

Co-ordination and information exchange between government agencies in the field of PRM needs to be improved both vertically and horizontally. The existing Pastoral Emergency Coordination Committee (PECC) at county, prefecture and provincial level should be the coordination body. The mandate of the committee should be extended to coordinate between all related stakeholders and all issues related to PRM and emergency response.

Under coordination of the PECC, the following PRM task designation matrix can be developed and agreed among different stakeholders. Table 9 presents the tasks in RPM of different line agencies and stakeholders in Qinghai

· Strengthen the pastoral extension service

In the much changed atmosphere of China’s economic boom, the concern with very large environmental conservation programmes, and in view of the new attitudes towards herdeing livelihoods, there should be comprehensive review of requirements for a better, tailor made pastoral extension service.

Table 9. Responsibilities for PRM task

Tasks and functions

Responsible Institutions and Stakeholders

Policy formulation implementation, coordination

Provincial government, PRM Coordination Committee at provincial, prefecture & county level

Risk planning

Provincial AAHB, County AHB, Grassland Station, herder’s groups

Winter Preparation

Herder households; herder cooperation, AHB

Fodder production

County and prefecture Grassland station; herder groups

Animal health care

Veterinary station at prefecture, county and province

Animal breeding

AHB, herder cooperatives

Early warning

County Grassland station, meteorological bureau, TV, Radio, etc.

Emergency relief

County government, AHB, Grassland station, Civil Affaire bureau, etc

Funds and financing the PRM

Provincial Commission for Development and Reform; Department of Finance; ABC, RCC, AAHB, Auditing Bureau, etc.

Training and technical service

County AAHB, Grassland Station

[11] With a rolling lease, at the end of each year, one year is added to the expiry date of the lease so that, if the lease conditions have been met, the leaseholder and his potential inheritors always have the same period of lease security ahead. This provides much greater security of tenure.
[12] Lease conditionality is common in many areas where pastures are leased. Conditions include that the lessee will for example maintain a desired high value vegetation or landscape, not pollute or water, will undertake specified measures such as fencing or tree planting. The leased area is inspected every 1-5 years by the owner and the lessee can be warned about infractions. In extreme cases the lease can be terminated.
[13] The law was amended in 2002 by the People’s Congress

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page