Forum global sur la sécurité alimentaire et la nutrition (Forum FSN)

Grazing and livestock management: Living with water scarcity management by pastoral communities.

Pastoralists in many parts of the world are accustomed to dealing with scarcities including of water. This is because areas inhabited by pastoralists are sometimes considered “marginal,” as they lack relative abundance of resources compared to other agroecological areas. However, how pastoralists manage water and hence their landscape is linked to availability of another vital resource; pasture. To prevent degradation of both water and pastures, communal management is often employed that guides movement (mobility) across the landscape in accessing water and pasture resources. Under communal governance systems decisions are negotiated such as when to construct new wells, who is responsible and in effect who has access, when and for how long. This implies a coordinated approach in addressing water scarcity that combines local/ traditional knowledge on the landscape including pasture availability and development of new water infrastructure.

The Boran in East Africa monitor use and conditions of water their resources. The communities for example dig deep well is areas considered dry seasons grazing areas/reserves. These wells are often labour intensive in construction and also in drawing water from, thus necessitating people coming together and on rotational basis fetch water for all entitled households’ livestock. These areas also have restricted access that is mainly tied to adaptation to extreme dry conditions such as drought. Examples include preferences being given to nearby households, and later sometimes only to calves as they cannot travel to other distant water sources. In wet seasons, water is collected in shallow ponds or pans and use is often unrestricted.

Central to these are also principles such as reciprocity and flexibility which are key in adaptation. Inter-village or inter-community understandings are guided by reliance on one another’s resources including water from one season to another depending on intensities of extreme events and needs. Yet these rights are often not fixed but negotiated as maybe needed from season to season or event to event.