Sub-theme 3. Indigenous peoples and globalisation
Pastoralists beyond the cross-roads in the Horn of Africa: what are the new promising coping strategies to restore hope?
For over three decades, many pastoral livelihood scholars referred to pastoralists as being at ‘cross-roads’ as far as their livelihoods were concerned. A ‘cross-road ‘ is a point in time and space when or where major decision must be made; but not necessarily a crisis point and therefore the decisions should be sober—ones which can improve the family or community welfare. In the face of the rapidly unfolding climate change phenomenon and its attendant impacts, namely, global warming, frequent droughts and floods, pastoralists within the Horn of Africa are currently in a very precarious situation—their very survival is under unprecedented threat. Climate change impacts are complicated by high human population growth rates, which lead to ceding of prime grazing lands to other competing uses like large-scale crop farms, mega-infrastructure, industries, burgeoning towns and cities, etc. Related transformations in pastoral areas include rapid migration of the youth to towns and cities, internal displacement due to famine, resource-related conflicts, and transition from pastoralism to small and micro-businesses. Loss of prime grazing resources has led not only to decline in livestock numbers, but also to their productivity; and livestock being the key driver of pastoralism, its absence spells doom for the pastoralists. Pastoralists in the Greater Horn of Africa, as is indeed the case in the globe, have been pushed beyond the ‘cross-roads’, and are currently in the ’eye’ of a life-threatening natural disaster. The big questions therefore is ‘what new key strategies are the pastoralists inventing in order to cope with the emerging complex socio-economic, political and environmental interruptions that are being triggered by climate change and its associated impacts?’. This question will form the main agenda of discussion in this panel.
1. Developing indigenous tourism in the bomas: critiquing issues from within the Maasai community in Tanzania
College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, Tanzania
Many tourism studies in Africa have focused on wildlife and wilderness resource-based tourism, with a secondary body of literature exploring cultural aspects of tourism. Many countries in the region, including Tanzania, have recently begun to recognize the potential for stand-alone, culture-based tourism to diversify the tourism industry and aid in rural economic development. Using insights from local stakeholders, primarily Maasai community members, this study identifies the critical challenges for providing indigenous cultural tourism in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Interviews and site visits to Maasai bomas were used to collect qualitative data for the study (Manyattas or settlements). Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed significant impediments to the development of indigenous cultural tourism among Tanzania’s Maasai. The findings indicate that achieving success in indigenous cultural tourism is thus difficult, and that specific community-based strategies that can facilitate the development of Maasai cultural tourism must be implemented.
2. Farming Grass to Adapt to Climate Change: The case of pastoralist-cum-dryland farmers in Baringo County, Kenya
1Lund University, Sweden, 2Rehabilitation of Arid Environments (RAE) Ltd, Kenya
Traditionally, pastoralists in Northern Kenya could rely on communal grazing areas to provide enough nutrients for their livestock. But climate change, a swelling population, and the increasing demands of the cash economy are posing a significant threat to pastoralism. The stability of the existing pastoral economy is compromised and livelihoods are made more precarious.
In Baringo County, a growing number of pastoralists are turning to grass farming as an adaptation that enables them to cope in this more precarious context. They are fencing off land to grow grass, and, as a result, changing the face of the dryland economy. Most dryland farmers in the region use the grass to feed their own meat or dairy cattle. But an increasing number are supplementing their pastoral activities with a diverse combination of non-livestock activities: selling grass seeds as a cash crop; selling hay for grazing or thatching; hiring out pasture for grazing; harvesting honey; and wildlife tourism.
Grass farming contributes to the overall resilience of the wider social-ecological system of Baringo. That’s to say it builds a healthier, more robust ecosystem and more resilient livelihoods for the individual pastoralists. Thanks to the initiatives of these entrepreneurial pastoralists-cum-dryland farmers, a fledgling dryland grass economy with multiple income generating opportunities is starting to flourish. These initiatives are supported by grassroots social enterprise, Rehabilitation of Arid Environment (RAE) Ltd who have successfully rehabilitated some 6,000 acres of degraded land. With RAE’s expertise and assistance, over 900 grass field owners successfully contribute to this fledgling economy.
3. Exploring pathways of institutional change amongst pastoralist communities in Ethiopia and Somaliland: Female empowerment in a context of cultural and environmental uncertainty
ISS Erasmus University, Netherlands and Riara University, Nairobo,Kenya
Women and girls in pastoralist societies have been acknowledged as both marginalized and vulnerable. Yet pastoralist women and girls now stand at the frontline of change as they negotiate more settled lifestyles, and embrace new rights, opportunities and entitlements. Taking a closer look at pastoralist women and girls’ evolving lives, this paper explores research findings in eastern Somaliland, and Afar, Ethiopia and key insights into changing norms and dynamics, drawing on a micro institutional perspective. The paper specifically elaborates on girls’ school participation and shifting marital practices, and women’s participation in savings groups in fragile social and environmental contexts. Towards a deeper analysis of institutional change in pastoralist areas, the discussion examines adolescent girl’s new tentative social norms and the influence of local actors and conditions, and their expanding scope of agency. It considers the emerging agency of pastoralist women in savings groups in boosting pathways of change and female empowerment. Yet it draws attention to a gap in harnessing pastoralist men and boys in facilitating inclusive community development. In conclusion, the paper reflects more broadly on cultural dynamics for pastoralist groups, and female empowerment in less certain contexts; and underscores the importance of progressive leadership in forging sustainable and inclusive pathways of change.