Pastoralist Knowledge Hub

Pastoral mobility and animal welfare in a changing landscape

A diverse and interactive panel discussion at the CFS 46


18/10/2019 -

Policies and legislations should support initiatives that facilitate pastoral mobility, resource access and animal welfare. This was the key message at the side-event titled “Pastoral mobility and animal welfare in a changing landscape.”FAO’s Pastoralist Knowledge Hub, The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare organized this side-event, which took place on 18October 2019 at the 46th meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 46).

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to FAO and the Rome Based Agencies, Mohammad Emadi opened the session by stating the importance of mobile pastoralism for the environment as well as for pastoral livelihoods and national and regional economies. He mentioned pastoral mobility is contextual to various given situations and their issues vary from place to place globally. The Ambassador reiterated the recognition of the basic and ownership rights of mobile pastoralists is fundamental to gain their voice and role in governance mechanisms to protect them.

Sibiri Jean Zoundi, the Deputy Director of Sahel and West Africa Club of OECD, made reference to the decision on the regional transhumance protocol of West Africa was made by ECOWAS in 1998 to facilitate and promote a peaceful transhumance between the Sahelian and Coastal countries of West Africa. A regional dialogue mechanism was later formed to prevent and resolve conflict related to cross-border transhumance through annual meetings of all actors and stakeholders to discuss the implementation of the cross-border transhumance plan.

Michael Odhiambo, the Director of People, Land and Rural Development referred to the Policy Framework for Pastoralism in Africa, the East African Community Protocol on Environment and Natural Resources, the draft Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Protocol on Transhumance. He talked about the bilateral agreements between countries – made in the context of managing cross-border conflicts between pastoralist communities, to facilitate cross-border mobility during droughts, pointing out that there is no binding and enforceable regional policy or national legislation on mobility in the region. 

Engin Yilmaz, Director of Yolda Initiative cited the importance of the call for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists. This International year is important to increase the recognition and the importance of rangelands and pastoralists while raising the awareness of sustainable pastoralism and rangelands. Verdiana Morandi, a shepherdess, President of RETE Appia and WAMIP representative stated that; being mobile enforces rural networks between people and ensures consistent quality food supply but impeding mobility blocks the pastoralist production system, ecosystem services, food, and animal quality produced.

The value and contribution of working animals to pastoralist systems is complex but cannot be underestimated, yet these animals are marginalized. Rebecca Whay, the representative of The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare stated that working animals are particularly important to the pastoralist women as they contribute to their work – providing labor and transport – they generate security for pastoral livelihoods. Their welfare is highly important for the continuation of these services and policies and legislations should be more inclusive and supportive of these working animals.

Pastoral mobility is a reality that will happen with or without policies and legislations. Absence of regulations frustrate pastoralists in the practice of mobility and engenders conflict between them and other land users. Collaborative and mutually beneficial interventions for pastoralists and animal wellbeing are key to supporting pastoral mobility and animal welfare, helping to alleviate the impact of economic, social and environmental challenge, especially during crisis periods. 

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