Land degradation threatens traditional Bedouin ways in Syria

Deterioration of the fragile ecosystems of the Syrian steppes has led to the impoverishment of the Bedouin, nomadic people whose food security is vitally linked to the resources of the region's natural rangelands. By rehabiliating these lands, the project "Range Rehabiliation and Establishment of a Wildlife Reserve in the Syrian Steppe" aims to improve the living standards of the region's approximately 600 000 Bedouin, mainly shepherds and camel herders, who move throughout the territory according to the season and availability of grazing land. The project's participatory management approach involves the Bedouin, and in particular the women, in identifying problems and finding solutions that are both socially and culturally appropriate. Activities such as truffle gathering and handicrafts have also been encouraged in order to obtain supplementary income.

For centuries the Bedouin of the Syrian steppes have been shepherds and camel herders

Bedouin families use the meagre vegetation of the steppes for cooking and heating

Traditional handicrafts are encouraged as a means of increasing family income

Future generations should be able to live in their own environment and make it productive

4 June 1998

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