“From the voices of peoples' organisations: their fight for land rights as part of a bigger network” Learning Lab series is a space for peer-to-peer exchanges among peoples’ organisations of ILC. It seeks to understand how these organisations engage with the ILC network, their expectations, institutional challenges, and strengths. Over 100 ILC member organisations represent over fifty-six thousand communities and more than seventy-one million people around the globe. These peoples’ organisations directly represent and are accountable to people depending upon the land, whether at the local level as grassroots organisations or on a larger scale as regional federations.
The first roundtable discussion focused on pastoralists’ organisations and their fight for land rights. Dinesh Desai of MARAG, a pastoralist organisation in Gujarat, India, moderated the roundtable discussion, taking the audience to Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, and Morocco. The discussants explored the challenges and successes of pastoralists working with the broader ILC network.
different contexts, similar challenges
Elvira Maratova is a monitoring and evaluation specialist at the National Pasture Users’ Association (PUUs) of Kyrgyzstan. KYRGYZ JAYITY is the voluntary union of 456 members, representing the interests of Kyrgyz pastoralists both at the national and international levels.
Pastoralism is the primary source of income in Kyrgyzstan, with pasturelands occupying more than 85% of agricultural lands. Three pastureland management systems characterise Kyrgyzstan’s history: traditional nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralism before the Soviet era; centralised pastureland management during the Soviet period; and a mixed governance system post-Soviet. The post-soviet period was expected to improve the efficiency and productivity of pasturelands. However, challenges caused by the collapse of the Soviet pasture management system, disagreements on boundaries, inexperienced pasture committees, and legislative ambiguities led to the degradation and reduced productivity of pasturelands.
Although pasturelands are state-owned, the 2009 Law on Pastures gives local self-government bodies the right to transfer their powers of pasture management and use to Pasture Users Associations. Specifically, the law facilitates the transfer of responsibility and control over the use of state-owned pastures to local self-governing bodies, excluding the leasing and subleasing of pastures; establishes and defines the boundaries of pastures, and establishes Pasture Users Associations at the community level. To achieve this, Kyrgyz Jayity assisted the local communities in establishing Pasture Users Associations and developing pastureland resource use and management plans, which local governments have approved. Specifically, Kyrgyz Jayity engages in capacity building and institutional strengthening exercises with the Pasture Users Associations and promotes the rights of pasture users. Because of the pasture reform, local communities use their traditional knowledge and pastureland management systems to improve Kyrgyzstan’s socioeconomic and ecological conditions.
(Photo credits: Mirlan Abdulaev)
Alhassan Attahiru Jaoji, is a pastoralist and the Programme Coordinator at CORET, Nigeria. CORET promotes traditional animal husbandry, pastureland management, and conflict resolution mechanisms in the Sahelian and Sudanese region.
Nigeria has 20 million pastoralists with a herd of 19 million livestock. They contribute 90% of the meat and 30% of milk consumed in Nigeria. Despite their contribution to the Nigerian economy, pastoralists do not own land. In recent years, tensions between pastoralists and sedentary farmers continue intensifying, with dwindling land and natural resources at the centre of the conflict. Pastoralists are considered foreigners and settlers since they do not own land. The isolation of pastoralists results in land-use disputes over access to pasturelands and their exclusion from socioeconomic and environmental management, fundamental to livelihoods and agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
State governments have designated reserve areas for pastoralists; however, these reserves are not serviced by veterinary services, hospitals, schools, or amenities such as electricity and water. CORET mobilises and sensitises pastoralists to occupy and use grazing reserves to cope with Nigeria’s pastoralist challenges. CORET also sensitises the pastoralists about their land rights and fundamental rights, as there are low educational levels in pastoralists communities. CORET also participates in national, regional, and international forums on behalf of pastoralist communities.
Dr Saïd Fagouri is a veterinarian and General Coordinator of the Arab Network of Pastoral Communities (PASTO-ARABIC)
North Africa’s high altitude, mountainous steppes, and deserts are suitable for pastoralism. Morocco has 53 million hectares of pasturelands, with 21 million hectares held collectively, 9 million hectares of forestland, and 23 cultivated and uncultivated land. Historically, pastoralism was the region’s primary agricultural activity. The collective use of pasture resources refers to traditional use under the traditional system (Jmaa). However, the region currently faces challenges such as reduced pastoralist mobility, the privatisation of commons, inequalities in livestock holdings, and disputes with sedentary farmers. Consequently, the region’s rangelands are under pressure, leading to their degradation. Further, the 2016 law on pastoral transhumance still does not address the challenges faced by pastoralists as it goes against the rules and practices of pastureland users. As a result, pasture use conflicts persist.
As part of the solution to transhumant lack of access to pasturelands in North Africa, PASTO-ARABIC, a social movement founded in 2016, worked to generate, promote, and share knowledge on traditional pastoral practices and policy actions and advocate for pastoral communities’ rights. Specifically, PASTO-ARABIC participates in regional meetings to share knowledge about Arabic pastoral communities, influence policies at the local, national, regional, and international levels; and highlight traditional pastoralist systems’ role in strengthening the region’s socio-cultural, economic, and environmental wellbeing.
(Photo credits: David Rubio)
Marité Alvarez is a pastoralist in Gran Chaco, Argentina, and is part of the Redes Chaco, Pastoramericas and the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (Wamip) networks of pastoralists.
The Gran Chaco region faces many problems, including the destruction of local ecosystems, land grabbing, competition for land with hunter-gatherer communities, access to water, food systems and food sovereignty challenges. Despite the diverse ecosystems, shepherds and pastoralists tend to be in different parts of Argentina, quite distant from each other. Consequently, it is challenging to hold regional meetings concerning land tenure issues, food security and livelihoods. Further, despite the pastoralists’ six per cent contribution to Argentina’s GDP, the laws and policies do not recognise their contribution to the economy.
To bring Latin American pastoralists together over the past seven years, Pastoramerica, a regional network of pastoralist organisations, protects pastoralists in Patagonia and surrounding regions and wetlands in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
Read how pastoralists are advocating for the recognition of and investment in their sustainable production system (in Spanish).
The Role of the ILC Network in Advancing the Pastoralist Agenda through Collaborative Processes
Kyrgyz Jayity is involved in various strategic partnerships with ILC. Under the National Engagement Strategy, NES Kyrgyzstan has six members promoting people-centred land governance, focusing on removing national barriers to land tenure for pastoralists. Under the Commitment-Based Initiatives, Kyrgyz Jayity promotes locally managed ecosystems and ensures transparent and accessible information. The Central Asian Pastoralist Alliance (CAPA) facilitated experiential exchanges among central and south Asian members. Further, the 2017 Asia Land Forum hosted in Kyrgyzstan allowed learning from the 100 participants from sixteen countries in attendance. ILC runs a well-curated Database of Good Practices and Learning Hub where Kyrgyz Jayity’s work features. Finally, with the support of ILC, Kyrgyz Jayity was one of the first organisations to support the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.
ILC’s work on Commitment-Based Initiatives inspired PASTO-ARABIC to join as a member in 2018. Specifically, ILC’s value is its support in shaping the land policy agenda at the national, regional, and international levels. Currently, PASTO-ARABIC has established community-based associations working on customary land rights and governed by community by-laws. In addition, ILC has a potential collaborative role with PASTO-ARABIC in protecting pastoralists’ land rights and their attendant benefits such as women’s land rights, customary land rights, and biodiversity conservation. Further, ILC has a role in facilitating pastoralists’ lobbying activities at the national and regional levels to influence the international level. Finally, the forthcoming Global Land Forum in Jordan in March 2022 will offer a great space to make the demands and contributions of pastoralists visible.
ILC has a role in facilitating pastoralists’ lobbying activities at the national and regional levels to influence the international level.
As a member of the ILC, Pastoramerica connects with like-minded pastoralist organisations to promote knowledge exchanges on various but related issues such as water pollution, food security, and agro-ecology. Pastoralists can adapt to climate change, coexist with other food systems and modes of production. ILC provides the platform and tools to formalise pastoralists’ struggles for their land rights and build cross-sectoral alliances to foster broader social change. As such, ILC has a role to play in strengthening community advocacy to engage with policymakers.
ILC has a role to play in strengthening community advocacy to engage with policymakers.
Since joining the ILC over four years ago, CORET benefits from knowledge sharing in many forums, including a learning route tour to Kenya and Tanzania in 2017. The tour sought to bring harmony between crop farmers and pastoralists in Nigeria. In addition, the tour provided an opportunity to engage face-to-face with government officials in charge of agriculture under a conducive environment moderated by neutral actors.
ILC and IFAD could host workshops on these emerging issues, coupling the discussions with food and social security.
CORET will benefit if ILC deploys its vast experiences to comment on the ongoing pastoral crises in Nigeria and West Africa. Land is the primary productive resource for pastoralists; thus, denying them access to land would end livestock production. ILC and IFAD could host workshops on these emerging issues, coupling the discussions with food and social security in Nigeria and the West African region. The livestock value chain has many actors whose livelihoods will worsen if livestock production is in crises. For farmers, the short supply of animals for traction means adding more cost to the inputs, translating to food insecurity for many families. When applied to the Nigerian context, the concept of land use planning may help reduce the tension between farmers and pastoralists. in this regard, CORET would appreciate ILC’s intervention.
Contributions from The Audience
Fernando Garcia-Dory from the European Shepherds’ Network
This is action-oriented, unlike international policy framework debates that can be disconnected from the pastoralists’ lived experiences and needs. The disconnect reaffirms the need for pastoralist-to-pastoralist communication channels to strengthen pastoralist leadership in regional and international processes. Their leadership will break the cycle of conversations on pastoralists that do not yield results as they do not address the pastoralists’ needs. Other knowledge repositories are disconnected from the pastoralists’ needs and cannot assist them in addressing challenges in the field. This gap presents a unique opportunity for ILC to support the specific needs of pastoralist groups. As a member of ESN and coordinator of ILC’s global rangelands initiative, we must ensure that the action plan responds to pastoralists’ expressed needs. It is essential to discuss how the national and regional levels of ILC and pastoralists organisations could influence policies at the national level. For instance, ILC must ensure that grassroots organisations’ challenges in implementing the ECOWAS Protocol on Transhumance in West Africa are known at the regional and global levels. He, thus, challenges ILC to coordinate across the national, regional, and international levels and use the strength of its alliance with organisations such as IUCN, ILRI, and FAO to influence policies at the local level.
We need for pastoralist-to-pastoralist communication channels to strengthen pastoralist leadership in regional and international processes.
What kind of support can ILC offer to better respond to the needs of pastoralists?
- Advocacy and campaigning – 73%
- Support participation of pastoralists in relevant processes – 73%
- Joint funding for joint initiative – 36%
- Capacity building and training – 64%
- Connection with other organisations – 36%
from the database of good practices
Community-based natural resource management in Kyrgyzstan
21 March 2018Read More
Use of the electronic pasture committee (EPC) information management system in Kyrgyzstan
25 April 2019Read More
Pastoralists re-establish traditional ecosystems and customary grazing rights
11 March 2018Read More