Plateforme des Connaissances Pastorales

Different contexts yet similar challenges

FAO facilitated knowledge-sharing workshop on pastoral land tenure reveals similar challenges across eastern and southern Africa

11/12/2017 -

Pastoralism is the dominant livelihood in the arid and semi-arid lands of eastern and southern Africa, contributing significantly not only to national GDPs, but also to food security and environmental restoration in the region. Yet, pastoralists face several challenges, especially with regards to resource loss due to adverse government policies, conservation efforts, infrastructure projects, rise in population, climate change, and land acquisitions by large industries.

A knowledge sharing workshop between civil society representatives from eastern and southern Africa was organized to address the challenges of insecure land tenure for pastoralists. Held in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 22 – 25, 2017, the workshop had participants from 12 different countries from the region who shared their experiences and country contexts. For example, the Community Land Act, 2016, in Kenya recognizes pastoralism and provides some safeguards, while in neighbouring Tanzania there are no legislations specific to pastoralism. While in Zambia most land is held by tribal chiefs and managed in common, private ranches for livestock production are common in Botswana.

Despite these differences in national policies and circumstances, the pastoralists in the region face similar challenges to resource access and use. Keeping with a Maasai pastoral saying, “An eye that has traveled is well informed,” a field visit to Olkaria, in Nakuru county of Kenya, was organized to highlight some of these challenges. The resource access and mobility of the Maasai pastoralist community that lives in this area has been restricted due to conservation efforts and industrial development. The community resources have been enclosed within the boundaries of the Hell’s Gate National Park and the site is also an important source of geo-thermal energy, with several test and active holes from which steam is tapped and transported through a huge network of pipelines.

Having observed and discussed these challenges, the participants of the workshop were able to list them thematically and prioritize them for their countries through a participatory exercise. Vivian Onyango, a FAO expert on pastoral systems and ecosystem services, gave an introduction to the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) Technical Guide on Improving governance of pastoral lands. She further facilitated a discussion on seven action areas, identified within the Technical Guide to address the challenges brought up by the participants.

Supported by FAO’s Partnership and South-South Cooperation Division and the Pastoralist Knowledge Hub, and organized by the Pastoralist Development Network of Kenya, the workshop served as a good introduction to the current state of pastoralism in eastern and southern Africa. Moreover, it provided an opportunity for the inclusion of southern African pastoralist representatives within regional discussions. Under represented thus far, the workshop provided them with a platform to present their case as well as be inducted within the Eastern and Southern African Pastoralist Network (ESAPN). With this expansion in membership, the ESAPN will be able to better advocate pro-pastoralist policies within the region.