One snowy winter’s day I went to a small winter camp of just two households 140 km from the nearest soum (district) centre. A dog stopped me getting out of the car for some time but eventually a man came to hold it back, explaining that the man from the neighbouring household was away on Otor migration in the mountains with his cattle. The two men were brothers, and the one left behind, Batbold, was taking care of their smaller livestock. It was very cold in his ger and I had the impression that he had not made a fire all day.
“I am one of the woman-headed households in this soum. I have been a herder for many years. For me life is still good, because I have a grown-up son who can help me. He became a herder when he was just 8 years old.”
Reflections on an old Mongolian saying
At a recent gender training session in Mongolia, a middle-aged man used the old Mongolian saying that “a woman has long hair and a short brain” when we asked participants to name some of the main characteristics of women and men. I was glad that he was corrected by a much older man, who pointed out that the saying relates to traditional gender roles that are already very different from what they were just a few years ago.
For hundreds of years, pastoralists in Ethiopia’s lowlands have relied on strong customary land tenure systems to survive. Historically, legislation has failed to clearly define communal rights to rangelands, and the specific roles and responsibilities for both communities and local government to administer and manage these resources. This legislative deficiency prevented pastoral communities from fully exercising their constitutional rights to land (Ethiopia’s Constitution broadly recognizes pastoral communities’ right to access land and prevents their involuntary displacement).
Northern Tanzania’s iconic savannah landscapes, home to some of the greatest cultural and biological diversity found anywhere in the world, encapsulate many of the challenges and opportunities facing community land rights in Africa. In contrast to most African countries, Tanzania’s landmark 1999 land reforms provide full legal recognition of customary land rights, which are administered through elected village councils.
This blog originally appeared on IISD
Farmers in Mali have gained critical new rights to their traditional land—and rural communities have gained much-needed economic stability—as a result of a historic new law.
Source: Future Agricultures
Written by:Nathan Oxley
For several years Future Agricultures has worked on pastoralism within African settings. For comparison, this post looks at a case from theTibetan Plateau, where pastoralists are facing similar challenges to those investigated by our Pastoralism theme.