Africa – Pastoralist Knowledge Hub

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Online hub for pastoralists to help address issues that face some of Africa’s most vulnerable communities

The Pastoralist Knowledge Hub, launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) aims to provide pastoral communities with a space to discover solutions to common challenges, discuss agricultural innovations and nominate and select representatives for global forums.

It will bring together institutions including the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World bank, alongside NGOs and pastoralist civil society groups.

Pastoral communities are important producers of livestock, meat, milk and animal products, and according to the FAO produce more than half of agricultural GDP in many countries. Through habitat provisioning, nutrient cycling and control of bush encroachment, livestock grazing helps to support the African rangeland ecosystem, however despite this they have often been marginalised in decision making that affects range-lands and migration routes.

According to a UN press release, the new global forum is an attempt to overcome a global policy gap in discussions of pastoralism and the challenges faced by transhumant communities.  Helena Semedo, FAO director-general said that “pastoralists are able to produce food where no crops can be grown. Yet, their concerns are poorly heard by the international community”.

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In Kenya, the Maasai community have faced the failure of seasonal rains in November and December; Kakuta Maimai, a farmer from Kajiado County and member of the Maasai Association, said “it’s nearly a year without rain and many people lost lots of cows to the ongoing drought”, reported Kenyan news outlet The Star (18/4).

In Tanzania representatives of 16 pastoral communities gathered at Kwa-Idd in Arusha city to discuss issues related to changing weather patterns. Edward Porokwa, Director of Pastoralists Indigenous Non-Government Organisations Forum, said that “pastoralists are the most vulnerable group when it comes to effects of global warming and climate change”, reported Tanzania Daily News (6/4).

The International Crisis Group, in an April 1st report, document security issues facing pastoral communities in Central Africa, including a deteriorating regional security situation, global climate change, multiplication in migration roads and expansion of cultivated areas, which is leading to increased  competition for resources, particularly water.

In Chad, due to limited bilateral cooperation on pastoralist issues with the Central African Republic (CAR), there has been an increase in violence especially on migration roads and the emergence of new pastoralist groups with different motives and access to weapons.

In CAR violence between by Christian Anti-Balaka militia has caused many Mbororo herders to shelter in a UN camp and only to venture out after months of talks, according to Reuters.  Thibaud Lesueur of International Crisis Group said that, “it’s very likely that if the pastoralists restarted their herding in the bush a few kilometres from town, they would once again be targeted by militia and bandits.”

Similarly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the migration of Mbororo herdsmen from several surrounding countries has caused tension with the local populations. According to the International Crisis Group,  DRC and CAR do not regulate transhumance and are unable to deal with the violence between communities, whereas some countries such as Niger and Chad receive financial support from donors to regulate pastoralism.

In many parts of Africa conflicts and tensions between pastoral and sedentary communities are increasingly complex, extending beyond national borders and interweaving with other regional conflicts and security issues. It is hoped that the Pastoralist Knowledge Hub will facilitate and contribute to the strengthening of pastoral livelihoods through worldwide sharing of information, stories, solutions and knowledge.

Find out more the Africa Research Bulletin:

Livestock: Kenya
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue. 10, Pp.20611b-20611c

IGAD: World Bank Support for Pastoralists
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.3, Pp.20333B

Pastoralists Vs Pollution
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.43, Issue.11, Pp.17173A

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