Pastoralist Knowledge Hub

South Asia

South Asia has a spectacular landscape of diverse pastoralist communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka inhabiting the multitude of ecosystems ranging from the alpine pastures in the Himalayan mountain ranges to the hot and arid desert plains. Pastoralism within this region includes cold mountainous transhumant systems in the Himalayas and northern highlands, as well as dryland pastoralism in the southern deserts and arid areas. Many pastoralists here still practice their traditional way of life including moving with their herds. They are expert breeders and they keep highly adapted breeds of camels, cattle, domestic buffaloes, sheep and goat, as well as horses and donkeys. 

Pastoralists in South Asia are under severe distress and an alarming number are forced to withdraw from traditional livestock keeping for a variety of reasons, including loss of common property resources, land acquisition by non-pastoralist land users and mechanised technologies introduced in agriculture, etc. The rangeland is increasingly being acquired for varied reasons such as for protecting forest, preserving wildlife, rail corridors, mining, special economic zones, power and energy generation, etc. The rangeland that is remaining, is under continuous threat of being acquired by non-pastoralist land users. There is no clear institutional jurisdiction over the rangelands. Today, pastoralists are increasingly bound by inter- and intra-state national borders. Their mobility is restricted, making them dependent on farmers, forests and the government, pushing them out of pastoralism. However, there are different patterns of rangeland use, protection, management, preservation and conservation across South Asia. They have also largely been left out of decision-making processes in South Asia and there is a lack of disaggregated data for this type of production system. 

The Pastoralist Knowledge Hub supported:

  • The development of the South Asia Pastoralist Alliance through regional meetings and community dialogues. The first regional meeting was held in Gujarat, India, in March 2015.
  • The development of Biocultural Community Protocols for pastoralists in Gujarat in partnership with the Maldhari Rural Action Group (MARAG).
  • The participation of network members in policy processes such as the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Global Agenda on Sustainable Livestock, etc.

At present, South Asian Pastoral Alliance (SAPA) have active representatives from three countries – India, Afghanistan and Nepal, along with explorations in Bangladesh and Bhutan. The alliance is working on mapping the organisations rangeland and pastorals’ stake on these rangelands. The next step is to take the abundance of mapped and studied findings ahead by mobilizing and connecting communities, pastoralists, NGOs, civil societies at local, provincial, national and regional level and influencing policies and decision-making processes at national and regional levels.