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Pastoralists take charge

New FAO project supports community-driven data collection to advocate pro-pastoralist policies


01/12/2017 -

Basic information is lacking about pastoralist systems across the world. Data on pastoral household composition or livelihood practices are missing or not readily available. This is especially true for nomadic and transhumant pastoralists, who are hardly accounted for by official agricultural censuses. But what would happen if pastoralists collect their own data?

The knowledge gap on pastoralist systems is being addressed by the “Pastoralist-Driven Data Management System” project, implemented by FAO’s Pastoralist Knowledge Hub and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Planned to be implemented in Argentina, Chad and Mongolia, the project puts pastoralist communities at the core of the implementation process. It aims at aims at improving their capacities to collect, process and share information from their areas, thereby boosting their ability to influence policy processes. This would lead to better targeted, evidence-based, pastoralist-friendly policies at local, national and international levels.

FAO and the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) have jointly designed and organized the data collection and management methods, relying on their years of experience conducting field research. 10 pastoralists from 10 different regions of Chad, were recently trained in these methods in a workshop held in N’Djamena on November 17-19, 2017. Organized with support from Réseau Billital Maroobé (RBM), the workshop provided the participants an opportunity to test the survey tools, discuss possible challenges, and suggest improvements.

The participants also developed a strategy to collect data from across Chad, taking into account the local specificities of the country and the need to include mobile pastoralists that are often neglected by other statistical services. The participants are now charged with the responsibility of training their peers and leading and managing the data collection process.

Boubacar Soumaré from RBM says, “This is an innovative project which does not consider pastoralists as simple beneficiaries, but empowers them to take action by themselves.” This represents a turning point for cooperation in the field of pastoralism and a change in approach in the development sector by enabling pastoralists to produce their own knowledge.

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