Центр знаний о пастбищном животноводстве

Moving forward thanks to innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships

The collaboration established under the “Pastoralist-Driven Data Management Systems” project

22/04/2020 -

Pastoralist organizations have the full potential to manage complex information systems. This has incredible consequences on the impact they may have on decision-making. By collecting and managing data by themselves, they can contribute to better targeted and pastoralist-friendly policies as major protagonists, thus overcoming decades of biased policies and programs that do not effectively address pastoralists’ needs.

The “Pastoralist-Driven Data Management Systems” project aimed at strengthening the capacities of pastoralist organizations in data collection and analysis and information management. Funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), it was implemented in Argentina, Mongolia, and Chad through a close partnership among the FAO Pastoralist Knowledge Hub (PKH), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement – CIRAD) and three pastoralist organizations: the Argentinian Fundación Gran Chaco, the African Réseau Billital Maroobé (RBM), and the Mongolian National Federation of Pasture User Groups (NFPUG).

The project, implemented in 2017-2019, was successful in reinforcing the three pastoralist organizations, which were selected based on their prior technical skills and reliability, to serve as an example for future up-scaling. These organizations conducted autonomously two successive surveys among the pastoralist communities of their respective countries, carrying out thousands of interviews with households. Doing that, beyond demonstrating their great potential in data management, the organizations contributed to reveal the actual contribution of pastoralism to the national economies: up to 27 percent to the Gross Domestic Product in Chad, up to 12 percent in Mongolia, and up to 1.4% in Argentina.

One of the most innovative and successful aspects of the project was the pertinence of the approach, as a result of the composite partnership. This approach was pertinent and innovative thanks, among others, to the proactive involvement of the pastoralist organizations, which made it possible to acquire detailed and new information, that is usually inaccessible for “outsiders”. From the beginning, the strategy for data collection was developed in a collective manner, starting from the three kick-off meetings held in N’Djamena, Ulaanbaatar, and Buenos Aires. Having a deep knowledge and a wide network in the field, these organizations contributed to develop well adapted and context-specific questionnaires and tools, thus allowing to gain the trust of households and get information that is usually overlooked or misunderstood by “normal” enumerators.

Throughout the project, representatives of the pastoralist organizations were in charge of training their peers, through adapted capacity-building systems. In Mongolia, the training was conducted following a cascade approach: the NFPUG trained the region leaders, who in turn trained the province leaders, who trained the department leaders, and so on. In Chad, the RBM focal points adopted a more centralized approach, personally training all the data collectors through several plenary sessions. Fundación Gran Chaco in Argentina followed a mixed approach, training both data collectors and other trainers, depending on the circumstances.

Once the surveys completed, the three pastoralist organizations were involved in data management, through daily remote exchanges with CIRAD and FAO, thus acknowledging the huge amount of work they had performed. They assisted CIRAD in the data analysis, by checking the correctness of the information, filling in the missing fields, and detecting and correcting abnormal data. They reported that this was a very challenging but rewarding part of the project.

As a result, nowadays the three organizations have a core team of people trained on the adopted approach and well connected with each other. This team is made up of around 35people in Mongolia, 14 in Chad, and 43 in Argentina. In addition, each team has one or two supervisors, who were directly and constantly involved throughout project, and are able to mobilize the same networks for other activities.

In addition to that, the three organizations increased their relations and information exchanges with financial and technical partners, national authorities (ministries of livestock and statistics), research institutes, and many other stakeholders in the field. In the case of Mongolia, a very close collaboration was set up between the NFPUG, on one side, and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry and the Administration of land affairs, geodesy and cartography, on the other side which both provided support by conducting interviews in areas not covered by the Federation’s work.

In Argentina, Fundación Gran Chaco dedicated several months to a campaign of training/awareness-raising in the different regions, with a representative travelling all around the country, organizing information meetings, and training those interested in contributing in the project. Indeed, at the beginning, the project implementation was hampered by a lack of awareness and partnership among different institutions around pastoralism, since in Latin America the notion of “pastoralism” and the figure of “pastoralist” are not yet entrenched, and the concepts of “peasant” or “smallholder” are dominant. Beyond serving Fundación Gran Chaco to better understand the reality in the field, such a mobile campaign contributed to create and/or strengthen a very wide network of grassroot organizations whose work is directly or indirectly related to pastoralism. All those stakeholders made it possible to achieve remarkable results in a difficult context.

As far as it concerns Chad, the project has led to a positive dynamic/partnership involving RBM, its national branch (Confédération des Organisations professionnelles des Pasteurs et Acteurs de la Filière Bétail au Tchad, better known as COPAFIB), and the data collectors. Before that, RBM (as regional organization) used to have a weak and very recent presence in Chad, so that it was obliged to put a lot of effort in strengthening the motivation and the skills of the field actors. More training sessions were organized, and continuous support was provided, both in person and by phone. Notably, this partnership has led to creating a desire to claim for recognition and rights among the pastoralist representatives involved. Indeed, 10 of them were successfully trained on data management and learnt a job that is complementary to their pastoralist background. Nowadays, they represent now a “bridge” between their communities, on one side, and policy-makers and international organizations on the other side.

Having acquired renovated awareness, new technical skills, and fresh reliable data, the pastoralist organizations will now be able to connect and confer with decision-makers, in order to put forward appropriate policy proposals with a view to the sustainable development of pastoralism. One of these proposals, for instance, will concern the set-up of an Observatory on Pastoralism in each region, allowing to monitor and assess the state of pastoralism (from different angles, e.g. gender, youth, food security, inequalities), as well as its dynamics and ongoing processes. To be effective, it is fundamental that this process involves the largest network of implicated stakeholders: regional networks as PastorAmericas and Redes Chaco in Latin America, country-level partners as the national branches of RBM, as well as government actors such as the local governing institutions having collaborated with the NFPUG.

Through the “Pastoralist-Driven Data Management Systems” project, all the participants learnt important lessons. The main one is that setting up a diverse partnership may be difficult – since different stakeholders speak different languages and follow different patterns and goals; nonetheless, it may lead to original solutions and pioneering discoveries, thus opening the door to major mindset changes.