News / Africa

Pastoral Societies Seek Place Amid Change

Roopa Gogineni
Pastoralist communities around the world often live at the margins of modern day states, but pastoralist leaders maintain that their traditional livelihoods are economically viable and environmentally sustainable. A recent international conference of pastoralists in rural Kenya offered a unique opportunity for pastoralists to gather and learn.
 
Pastoralism, a predominantly nomadic lifestyle centered on livestock herding, is under threat. To chart a way forward, more than 100 pastoralists from Sudan to Spain attended a Global Gathering of Pastoralists in Kiserian, Kenya.
 
Jonathan Davies, coordinator of the Global Drylands Initiative, helped organize the event.
 
"By bringing people from the most unlikely places together you discover that there is a lot of common ground and a lot of opportunity for sharing of experiences and expertise," said Davies.
 
Pastoralist communities normally live in geographic peripheries, far from the reach of central governments.
 
They often are painted as anti-government and conflict-prone, but Davies claims this reputation is undeserved.
 
"Pastoralism is on a third of the land surface on this planet and the vast majority of it is self-policing and it is pretty peaceful. The conflicts are terrible but it is the exception, not the norm," said Davies.
 
Davies also said that the pastoralist land use system contributes to biodiversity and is environmentally sustainable, a point that was reinforced when conference attendees visited a biofuel processing plant.
 
Khalid Khawaldeh, who represents pastoral communities around Dana, Jordan, is among those who attended the conference and learned something new.
 
"The engineer just told us that we benefit from the waste more than from the meat. This is surprising for me," said Khawaldeh.
 
Like many at the conference, economic and political pressures forced Khawaldeh out of pastoralism.
 
"They cannot move outside the boundaries of Jordan. Even within Jordan they are in isolated islands because of privatization, industrialization, and conservation.  So they cannot move as they used to," said Khawaldeh.
 
The World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous People aims to set a global agenda to protect pastoralist rights.

Lalji Desai, the group's secretary-general, points out that many pastoral groups face the same issues.
 
"Most of the pastoralists in the regions, we have similar problems linked with the policy-making and decision-making process. Recognizing our rights, land rights issues, migratory routes, markets, preserving our animal genetic resources, or our knowledge - everything is linked with the policy-making decision," said Desai.
 
Ol-Johán Sikku, from the Sami community of reindeer herders in northern Sweden, noted that some pastoral groups, including the Sami, find support lacking.
 
"Still locally, regionally, or in the country you have to do something. But if you get support from the U.N., that's good. Because even the Sami people, we feel that the northern Scandinavian countries don't support the Sami so we have to have support from the U.N., EU and then we can do something," said Sikku.
 
Sikku is trying to protect his ancient lifestyle by adapting to modern realities. He lobbies the Swedish government for Sami rights and works with a group called Slow Food Sápmi that promotes traditional Sami recipes to find new markets for his reindeer meat.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Trade Talks Could Heat Up in 2015

With boosting trade a top priority for the Obama administration, 2015 may be the year that an agreement is finally reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the trade deal, which is intended to boost trade between 12 Pacific countries, faces opposition as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school

All About America

AppleAndroid