Making Rangelands More Secure | Land Portal

Land and resource loss, and change and fragmentation in the rangelands have increased dramatically in recent years due to both ‘external’ and ‘internal’ influences, including a lack of recognition of land- and resource-ownership rights, poor land-use planning, and privatization processes. These influences are having significant negative impacts on millions of rangeland users, including pastoralists and hunter-gatherers who depend upon rangelands for their food and livelihood security, as well as affecting national economies, peace and security. Predicted changes in climate highlight the importance of maintaining livelihoods, such as pastoralism that are able to adapt to and have a history of coping with aridity and unpredictable climatic events and stress. The comparative advantage that rangelands and rangeland peoples have in this regard is increasingly being compromised by their loss of access to resources and land.

From January 29 to February 9, 2018International Land Coalition’s Rangelands Initiative and Land Portal Foundation will co-facilitate a dialogue onexperiences of making rangelands more secure for local rangeland users. This will focus on the challenges faced by rangelands and rangeland users, good practice, and ways forward and bring together the perspectives of governments, international agencies, communities, academics, donors, NGOs and CSOs, private sector and others. The dialogue will improve the understanding of rangelands and rangeland users and current dynamics, trends and challenges; as well as opportunities for making rangelands more secure through good practices and new opportunities. It is also anticipated that the dialogue will strengthen the ILC Rangelands Initiative multi-stakeholder platform and others, and provide clear strategic direction for further engaging on rangelands globally and nationally.

This dialogue will contribute to an improved recognition of the rights of rangelands users by increasing understandings of current trends and challenges faced by them, sharing good practice in making rangelands more secure, and discussing opportunities for adapting these good practice and/or scaling up. The primary objectives of the dialogue are to:

  1. Consolidate the challenges faced by rangelands and rangelands users globally, including commonalities and differences of these, their contexts, and their outcomes in order to develop a clear picture of the issues.
  2. Share good practice experiences, innovations and initiative, and lessons learned on making rangelands more secure for different rangeland users including pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, including both men and women and other social groupings so that others can learn from these and/or to strengthen and/or improve them.
  3. Identify and/or strengthen pathways at different levels of engagement for makingrangelands more secure including collaborations between multiple stakeholders.

Anticipated outputs

  1. Consolidation of challenges faced by rangeland users globally.
  2. Synthesis of good practice experiences and lessons learned on making rangelands more secure.
  3. Synthesis of discussions related to areas of convergence and disagreement between different stakeholders.
  4. Identification of stronger pathways to engage as a multi-stakeholder platform to make rangelands more secure.

Discussion questions

1. What land-related challenges are rangelands and rangeland users facing globally?

  1. What trends of land use change are being seen in different parts of the world? What are the causes of these? What are their impacts on different rangeland users?
  2. To what degree are local rangelands users including often marginalised groups such as women and pastoralists involved in decisions over these changes?
  3. Where are the hotspot areas of land use conflicts, and what are the causes of these conflicts?


2. What are some good practice examples, experiences and lessons learned of making rangelands more secure?

a. What are the example of enabling policy and legislation that supports the rights of local land uses to rangelands? Are they successful? And if so, what are the main elements of success?

b. What initiatives exist that have secured rights of local rangeland users to land and resources and why have these succeeded where others have not?

c. What initiatives exist that have improved land use planning processes resulting in more effective use of land and reconciliation of differences between land users?

d. To what degree are these initiatives participatory and inclusive ensuring that all stakeholders are involved including often marginalised groups?

e. What new technology has been used to make the securing of rangelands more effective and efficient?

f. What examples exist of initiatives that have successfully resolved land use conflicts and what lessons can we learn from these for further application?


3. How can we develop strong pathways for engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform?

a. What are the key pathways to securing rangelands for local rangeland users at different levels?

b. How can different stakeholders better connect, mobilise and influence in order to make rangelands more secure?

c. How can working together add value to working individually? An example being the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.

d. What are the key opportunities for working as a multi-stakeholder platform in order to make rangelands more secure?


Dear All,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the online-dialogue on Making Rangelands More Secure. This dialogue aims to bring together rangelands communities, governments, practitioners and other stakeholders from around the world. This dialogue is the result of a partnership between the International Land Coalition Rangelands Initiative and Land Portal. It is a common effort to reach a shared goal of improving information exchange and dialogue in an effort to make rangelands more secure.

We hope this dialogue will strengthen the network of global actors working in the rangelands, and will improve understandings of rangelands and rangeland tenure and governance in particular, whilst strengthening a critical masse of people concerned with these issues who can continue working together for positive change.

I very much look forward to learning more about rangelands and rangeland tenure from you together with sharing your experiences in your own countries and in places you have visited and worked. I am sure together we will produce a very rich and useful exchange. Please let the dialogue begin!

Fiona Flintan

Coordinator of the ILC Rangelands Initiative global component, for ILRI.

Dear Participants,

I'd like to start with contributions to the first question of our debate. What land-related challenges are rangelands and rangeland users facing globally? Please share you views on:

- What trends of land use change are being seen in different parts of the world? What are the causes of these? What are their impacts on different rangeland users?

- To what degree are local rangelands users including often marginalised groups such as women and pastoralists involved in decisions over these changes?

- Where are the hotspot areas of land use conflicts, and what are the causes of these conflicts?

Thank you for your contributions!

The "industrial" cashew and mango crops, grown in large areas, used by senior executives and wealthy traders divert stock roads. the associated infrastructures (eg irrigation) that accompany them reduce the space and use natural resources at the expense of livestock. The diversion of stock roads leads to a deep transformation of those by driving livestock to conflict zones (residential areas or areas with a high concentration of population, and therefore of crop fields)

I view the issue of industrial crop production to be a new way to grab land. Many elites/political office holders in Nigeria go back to their communities to grab land. They go through the village chief to demand and acquire large hectars of land in name of orchards and ranch development. The environment/climate may not be suitable for such crops yet they will go ahead to plant the trees or import foreign cattle into the ranch. Few years later the so-called business is dead and the land is already fenced and title obtained from relevant authorities.

As a way out of this practice policies are needed to provide for regular assessment of such businesses, those that are found not viable, government should take the lands back to the poor farmers. So many of such 'farms' in Nigeria.

The absence or the weakness of the development of the territory favors these occupations. It is therefore urgent to have a strong action of distribution of the uses of the land with a view to securing the production areas for the benefit of small producers and transhumants.

In Kyrgyzstan, the main problem in the field of rangeland is rangeland deterioration, their degradation and desertification. The reason for the degradation of rangeland is the uneven grazing on rangeland areas, in other words, there is congestion in spring-autumn village pastures that experience more load than remote mountain pastures. This situation is connected with the lack of opportunities for livestock owners to practice transhumance, with the lack of transport and financial means, and with the absence of bridges and roads

The traditional activity of the people of Kazakhstan has been and remains pastoralism.

The older generation of Kazakhs perfectly mastered the methods of rational use of rangelands, and their knowledge, experience, and material and financial support of the state in the issues of traditional seasonal pastoralism in the Soviet period allowed to preserve rangelands from degradation. Currently, young villagers are engaged in livestock grazing who have neither knowledge nor skills in pasture rotation, nor financial and material resources. The non-systematic use of rangelands has already led to the disruption of 26.5 million hectares of these lands.

Factors that are threatening rangelands:

1. The main livestock is grazed around the village throughout the year without taking into account the livestock capacity of rangelands, which leads to overloading of rangelands and their degradation.

2. Lack of infrastructure, water wells on grasslands, remoteness from villages and their inaccessibility also limits the use of transhumance. Rural akimats [municipal governments] often do not have information on the status of grasslands.

3. A serious obstacle to the rational use of remote, more productive rangelands is that about 80% of livestock is kept in private farms that are reluctant to cooperate and create joint cattle to access grasslands. In order to solve common problems, only the organization of individual (small) livestock owners in various associations can preserve the productivity of pasture lands.

4. Lack of professional training courses for shepherds. Young people do not have knowledge about allowable load of livestock on rangelands, depending on the type and productivity of pastures (there are about 1,000 types of pastures in Kazakhstan), the rules for seasonal use of rangelands, the timing and norms of pasture use, methods for monitoring pasture productivity, etc. Small livestock owners do not have enough knowledge about their rights with regard to the use of land. The problem is related to lack of information and passive attitude of the population.

5. Non-renewability of pasture lands. Because pastoralists do not practice rotational grazing, they do not harvest enough feed for the winter period and do not allow rangelands to rest. There is a change in the rangeland vegetation, the biodiversity of rangelands is decreasing and poisonous and uneatable vegetation is increasing. The situation is aggravated by the aridity of the climate. Climate warming in Kazakhstan is occurring twice as fast as the global average. At the point, there is a temperature increase of 1.8 ° C in 100 years. This trend can lead to a shift in the natural and climatic zones and intensify the processes of land degradation and desertification.

6. The lack of hayfields leads to degradation of rangelands. Lack of rangelands and hayfields on the one hand, and an increase in the number of livestock, on the other, cause a shortage in the livestock feed supply. In severe food-deficit situations livestock owners are forced to buy hay and grains at a high price, that is expensive for their budget, especially for the budget of private small livestock breeders.

The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Pastures adopted on 20 February 2017 can and should become a useful tool for uniting small livestock breeders to solve their own problems, not only with the use of land resources, but also upholding vital social and economic interests. In order to implement the law in villages, it is necessary to create public associations to explain the provisions of the Law, programs adopted by the Government, and to introduce young shepherds to the rules of rational use of rangelands.

Extensive rangelands in Mongolia is almost 75% of the total territory or 110 million ha pastureland. As of December 2017 the number of livestock reached over 66,2 million heads while carrying capacity is exceeded 5 times. Overgrazing is caused by increased number of livestock, however, without proper system, market access, better value of livestock and raw materials, improvement of productivity and policy regulations pastoralists would not just butcher their animals to balance the carrying capacity. Although Government of Mongolia is prioritizing to increase export market for livestock products, especially meat, there are many challenges including animal disease, international standards and realizing opportunity of branding of free-range, grass fed animal products. If these issues are solved at least, the rangeland health and ecosystem balance would improve. A draft Rangeland/Pastureland Protection Law of Mongolia has been prolonged over 10 years and this effort is still under discussion. 

Pasture of cattle on the territory of the State Forest Fund of the Kyrgyz Republic

According to the Forest Code of the Kyrgyz Republic, on the territory of the State Forest Fund (further SFF) grazing of cattle is allowed, which is one type of forest use.

To date, there is a non-standardized load on grazing lands in pasturelands of the SFF, which is the main cause of the severe deterioration of their condition, causing soil erosion, and as a result leads to a significant decrease in the productivity of land resources.

This is mainly due to the lack of a management plan and the use of pasture land in the territory of the SFF.

The Law of the Kyrgyz Republic "On Pastures" (2009) does not regulate pasture use on the territory of the SFF.

At the present time, by the state forest management organization has developed a draft decree "Procedure for the use and disposal of the state forest fund," which defines the procedure for regulating pasture of livestock in pasture lands of the SFF. And this draft decree of the Kyrgyz Republic was submitted to the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic for consideration and approval.

Having worked with a Non- Governmental Organization ( Ujamaa Community Resource Team- UCRT) for over 8 years and the experience gathered from 18 Years of UCRT’s working with rural communities particularly the Pastoralists in Tanzania, I am happy to share our experiences regarding the causes of conflict in areas hotspot of land use conflicts as follows;

Firstly, I must begin by saying that the alarming Growth in Human Population Globally creates a serious threat to rangelands. Over the years, human population increase has been scaring and the impact is directly felt by all of us including the rangeland users. In Tanzania for instance, the population increases at rate of 2.7 % meaning that, there will be a time soon, where individuals will be struggling to secure a piece of land for shelter which is a basic need and the areas that are set for rangelands today shall automatically disappear. This is why it is extremely important that rangeland communities should be concerned about the increase in human populations and therefore should meaningfully participate in these global debates about populations increase.

Secondly, Conflict and Contradiction created by Laws and Policies badly affects rangelands, especially because often, policies and laws are heavily biased and unfairly favor other forms of land use such as Agriculture and Conservation at the expense of rangelands. For instance in Tanzania, often lands set aside or used for grazing with or without title deeds are often characterized as either Corridor, Wildlife Dispersal areas, open areas, Game Controlled Areas, Hunting Block, Wildlife Migratory routes, Buffer Zones, Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) etc – are well protected under Wildlife Conservation regimes which often do not support co-existence- or multiple land use plans- which then subjects rangelands to be very unsecure or potentially fueling the removal of rangeland users from their ancestral lands – often you here evictions and removal of rangelands communities or conversion of rangelands into conservation areas because of the confusion created by policies and laws – Majority of the National Parks/Game Reserves we have today in Tanzania were areas occupied and used by rangeland communities before they were converted into the national Protected.

Thirdly, Massive Land Grabbing by elites and power interests in the name of investment- the large land holding usually affects village’s land and to be more precise lands that are often prone to this are rangelands for sometimes lack of title deeds – If a village does not have a village land certificate or secured lands- such lands are treated as no man’s land- regardless of the presence of rangeland users in those areas- If you do not have a document – legal paper such lands are at a risk – lack of formal documentation often exposes rangeland users to serious legal consequences’.

By Lekaita

Greetings Lakaita,

The Ujamaa Community Resource Team is to be congratulated for making full use of the Land Act No. 5 of 1999 and organizing the issue of Certificates of the Customary Right of Occupancy for 162,000 ha to clans of the Masai, Barbaig and Hadzabe, with more in the offing. It is a simply massive achievement that has encouraged so many of us. I have had no news on your attempts to recover the land taken from other customary owners for a wheat scheme, now failed but some of the land alienated to others and not given back to the commoners.[1] The Certificates of Occupancy offer a massive opportunity for customary people, pastoralists or not.


Unusual for Africa, Tanzania’s local government is highly decentralized, which should make available a well-structured partner for villager welfare and investment, and for the care of land under customary tenure. Yet this appears not to be the case, the centralization of state power over customary areas and their wildlife ferocious.[2] Yet Parliament itself is concerned, as reported by a 2015 Parliamentary Select Committee:[3]


1. Tanzania has no comprehensive mechanism to deal with land.

2. Weak law enforcement, contradictory legal regimes and ineffective and incompetent leaders were the major factors driving land conflicts.

3. There were several guiding principles that contradicted each other: the 1997 Land Policy contradicts the 2006 Livestock Policy - the former outlawing pastoralism, the latter allowing it.

4. Investors who need land are told they should enter into business ventures through the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), but the Land Act also allows the Land Ministry to sign up investors.

5. Only 1,200 villages out of more than 10,000 had been surveyed, and only a handful have land use plans, and there are no competent institutions able to supervise their implementation.

7. Conflicts involving farmers, pastoralists, investors and other land users are not only widespread, but they have persisted for a long time.

8. The land problems continue unabated despite the 1997 National Land Policy, which points to problems with implementation.

9. There are major shortcomings in the implementation of the 2006 Livestock Policy, including the failure to recognize livestock as wealth and therefore have land set aside for pastoralism.

10. There was no guidance on stocking rates.

11. Water policies are ineffectual due to water users and other stakeholders not being consulted.

12. There were serious flaws in the implementation of the Investment Policy, with landgrabbing taking place without consultation or compensation.

13. President Jakaya Kikwete’s directive to stop the movement of livestock from one district to another was ignored and Parliament should direct the government to make sure that livestock is transported using cars and trains.

14. The government should take immediate steps to control pastoralists from neighbouring countries.

15. The National Land Use Commission should assume responsibilities for landuse management.


And they made no mention of the Land Act of 1991?


The population explosion at 3% a year, your population doubling in 25 years, coupled with the ferocious advance of climate disruption, has to concentrate all our minds, though there is no evidence that this is happening. Tanzania is fortunate that it joined the Commonwealth in 1961, an organization which is geared to truly do something about climate disruption for its member nations. It regards support for girls and women as being absolutely essential.[4] Forget about the Paris party, the Commonwealth is the way to go.


[1] Ubwani, Zephania. "Hanang Pastoralists Secure Customary Rights over Land." The Citizen Tanzania, 3 Jan. 2016. Web. 4 Jan. 2017.

[2] Benjaminsen, Tor A. et al. Wildlife Management in Tanzania: State Control, Rent Seeking and Community Resistance. Development and Change, 44: 1087–1109.

21 Aug. 2013. Web. 11 April 2017. doi:10.1111/dech.12055

[3] "Tanzania Lacks Means to End Land Disputes, House Told." The Citizen, 7 Mar. 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.

[4] Hawken, Paul. "Drawdown." N.p., 01 June 2017. Web. 09 July 2017. <>.


Dear Dr. Ian Manning, many thanks for your contribution and observations. 

I truly agree with you that "Tanzania’s local government is highly decentralized, which should make available a well-structured partner for villager welfare and investment, and for the care of land under customary tenure. Yet this appears not to be the case". Like you correctly said it, in other places in Africa the big change is absence of law that supports decentralization - but in Tanzania, the idea of decentralization seem to be ok under the - current law and policy but the implementation is seriously lacking. Sometimes it makes sense in my opinion when you do not see things happening/moving /progressing due to lack of properly drafted laws and policies - at least you will know the reasons but I think it is even more strange where there are laws and well-written policy documents but nobody cares - 

Again, there are a number of laws and policies that badly contradicts each other and often when it comes to interpretation of these laws, it is the rangelands users or villager who suffer the most- For instance  some of these laws include; The livestock identification, registration and traceability act, 2010, The grazing-land and animal feed resources act, 2010,The wildlife conservation act, 2009 and The village land act, 1999- as correctly pointed often you hear such language 'The government should take immediate steps to control pastoralists from neighbouring countries, which I find it strange because first of all, rangeland users are not part of these decisions - and besides the African Union Policy on Pastoralism expressily advocates for cross boarder mobility of livestock across - boarders .

We are now in process of writing a new National Land Policy 2017/2018? and I am eagerly waiting to see what changes are being proposed - the process began since 2016 and hardly difficult to tell what is the current status of progress - policy-making processes in Africa especially are often not very transparent- 


UCRT has up to now secured about 1 Million acres of lands under CCRO for pastoralists and hunter-gatherers communities. The Hannang Wheat Farms story did not go as we had expected but we managed to protect land under CCRO for Datoga community and we still have on-going projects in Hannang aiming at securing more lands and if possible try to argue strongly that former wheat land farms should be returned to its original owners/occupiers. 

Again, we also have under our advocacy program, a component that deals with research and identifies unfriendly policies which are biased or contradicting policies and laws and work with Parliament to get them changed. It is not easy always to work with Parliament but it is very essential -  



Thank-you for sharing the report of the 2015 Parliamentary Select Committee - very interesting. 

One other factor that needs our collective attention is the commercialization of rangelands especially by key stakeholder (states and traditional institutions) at the expenses of the poor. Governments and the society place high much commercial value on rangelands, Land is used as a guaranty for loans, as collateral in courts of law etc. High profile individuals in the society become attracted to buy these lands from the poor, fence them and leave them to fallow.

How can this challenge be addressed to secure more lands for the poor?


I really like the way you describe the commercialization of rangelands by stakeholders like states and traditonal institutions- but what do you mean by traditional insitutions?

In the context of Tanzania,  while the poor in most cases have been victims of badly drafted policies and laws, one of the strengths of the Village Land Act 1999, is that village lands are protected from high profile individuals and commercial insitutions like Banks - because the said law prohibts other persons who are not resident or villagers in that particular village from buying and accessing village lands - so if a villager approaches a bank and use his/her piece of land as collateral for loan, the Bank will be restricted by law to make sure those who purchase such piece of land as result of loan defaults are villagers/residents in that particular village.  Village land certificates are in law similar to what is called granted right of occupany (legal title) but of course Bank's view this restriction as an impediment to business and usually do not accept a villager to use certificate of village lands as collateral.  In any case, legal safeguards can always be used as means to protect the poor from becoming landless following the commercialization of lands. In my humble view, government or states should provide gurantee on each village lands / lands belonging to the poor when such lands are about to be sold by the Bank, or bought by high profile individuals, Government should protect the poor from powerful interests - the only problem is often governments act like a broker in the process, instead of playing a mediator role.

In Tanzania, the traditional institutions especially among Masai community would be the best options to be given power and legal mandate to protect rangelands on behalf of communities - while in other countries such as Zambia, traditional institution have had a questionable history when it comes land appropriation, it will be extremely dangerous to generalize and assume that all traditional institutions are the same.

In summary, if local (poor) people were properly  consulted, empowered, and sensitized enough about the commercialization of land and the risks involved, they would be keen and alert before engaging in bad deals.



Thank you Lekaita,

I was in Tanzania and Kena late last year, visited the Ujama community and some Masia villages in Kenya. I was so impressed with the explaination given to us on land use and land use planing by the experts in the learning routes.  In Nigeria, it is similar to what you have the only major difference is the role of the traditional institutions. While in you case they may help protect rangelands, in Nigeria they help to get lands out of the hands of the poor peasant farmers and of course you know pastoralists do not own land here. They more often than not connive with the elites to acquire lands via the use of "vitamin C".  They have the potentials to mobilise the poor to resist any attempt by government to take over their lands but with "vitamin C", that is not the case.

It may interest you to note that unlike in the east Africa here in West Africa pastoralists do not have titles to land and are not part of the variables in the rangeland rights equation. The few grazing reserves established in the 60s have been taken over by crop farmers and government projects. This is a major source of conflicts in Nigeria.

The coordinators have brilliantly set the stage in their introductory statements on the challenges rangelands face. Personally, I think the institutional challenges are more staggering – not to mean that the technical ones are not important. The key to sustainable rangelands management lies not so much in technical improvements, but rather in institutional / policy brief of negotiating multiple and complementary access/uses of resources. Good to know that there are initiatives like this one, where land/rangelands governance can be promoted.

Marginalized groups including women and pastoralist are not involve in decision making arenas as they are not elected in to post of responsibilities and therefore make their access to land and natural resource difficult if not impossible.  

Transhumance zone are usually the conflicts hotspots and mixed farming areas in particular during dry season. These conflicts are mostly caused by encouragement/ blockages of access roads to drinking points and transhumant corridors, destruction of crops by animals and non-demarcation of pastorals from farming zones. 

These are aggravated by the recent phenomena of land grabbing by political elites and multinational investors on natural resources. Climate change is also factor.

In collaboration with ILC, the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA) an ILC member, which I am the Vice President, recently did a study on ‘Making Rangelands More Secure in Cameroon.’ We will be very happy to share some of our experiences/lessons/recommendations in this online forum.

Musa Ndamba

Vice President MBOSCUDA

1.The land ownership system: There is no clear statement/ policy about the ownership system which can be applied specifically in pastoral areas. And it makes very difficult to adopt different management strategies in pastoral areas.

2. The perception of the policymakers about pastoralism: This system is the only preferable system of production which can fit with drylands. But, the perception of the policymakers is that the only profitable production system is crop production system and they are forcing to shift pastoral production system to agro-pastoral.

3. The other main problem of the rangelands is that the rapid expansion of noxious rangeland weeds: Different drought tolerant weeds are invading the rangelands rapidly. 

4. Expansion of large state farms in the productive rangeland areas: Some part of the rangelands are found around the water sources and currently these areas are used for cultivation of crops by using irrigation schemes. So, the rangelands are shrinking from time to time. 


I like your short narrative on this issue;

1. I am an expert on land rights matters, but I know pastoralists in West Africa and Nigeria in particular do not have right to land, even for grazing. Recently, local laws were passed to prevent open grazing in Nigeria. This led to a lot of pastoralists migration to other locations with more conflicts more like a tsunami. Pastoralists were blamed for all the killings without due consideration to the causes of the conflicts.

2. Policy maker as your rightly said are ignorant of the pastoralists way of life. In any case pastoralists are not represented in the national assembly. More so policymakers take what they read in the newspapers as hard facts.

3. As a way out a new concept need to be brought in "pastoro-agro", pastoralists should be encouraged to grow crops in the remaing grazing reserves;

4. Wetlands that used to be santuary for pastoralists during drought no longer exist. These wetlands are put under cultivation year round. In Nigeria World Bank funds are used assist crop farmers to grow crops that do not have residue for pastoralists such as carrots, onions etc. This has help to intensify conflicts in many communities.

There is certainly a big issue with inadequate policies for pastoralists. I recommend reading this paper I got published last year:

Hi Natnael. Absolutely agree with your comments. I was only last night talking to someone about how Partenium is more of a problem now across much of Afar compared to Prosopis. Do get in touch via email - would be good to know what you are studying etc. Best, Fiona


Currently Central Asia region stile in adaptation phase in ongoing socio-economic, ecological and political challenges. Therefore  expansion of mining business has as positive effect in terms of economic development, but has also as negative effect for the pasture land use rights of herder’s in Central Asia. 

Hi Hijaba, Thanks for your comments. Perhaps in the next few days you would like to share what you suggest are some of the practical solutions to reconciling the conflicts between mining and pastoralism in Mongolia. Best. Fiona

Land is always exploited without due consideration for its depletion. Land degradation through mining activities, oil exploration, over grazing, over cropping, use of dangerous chemical fertilizers, pollution all combine to destroy rangelands. Lands used for Tin mining in Nigeria for over two decades have not been reclaimed and the companies/countries that benefitted from these activities are no longer interested in the land again. Pastoralists often have their cattle killed in pits/holes and gullies left behind. For the crop farmers such lands no longer support agricultural activities. The pits left behind hold water which could be used for reclamation, restoration and regeneration of these lands. Adjacent fields could be used for irrigation activities and fisheries development.

The dialogue organisers have started us off with many big questions already put together well, many of which we have been investigating through our WOLTS project comparative research in Tanzania and Mongolia over the past two years. For Tanzania, I agree with the various comments of UCRT's Lekaita above. Complex layers of institutional, policy, legal and investment issues are having negative effects on rangelands users' rights in a context of growing population and climate change. While for Central Asia (including Mongolia), Ykhanbai has rightly drawn attention above to the expansion of mining as a key issue.

In addition, when considering the gender aspects, lack of participation by not just women but all vulnerable or marginalised people within many pastoralist societies around the world holds back those same societies from effectively protecting their land and resource rights in rangelands. So tackling this must be a key part of the solution.

More broadly with respect to issues and challenges facing rangelands globally, what we have seen in our WOLTS research so far is the major significance of climate change as a factor beyond our control in terms of solutions but which is having as yet hard to predict effects on rangelands and pastoral livelihoods worldwide. The similarities in this between Tanzania and Mongolia - two countries with different environments, temperatures etc - have been quite eye-opening for me. That two very different countries in many ways are facing very similar problems in their rangeland areas. This gives me hope that there is much to learn from solutions developed in one country that could be relevant to rangeland users in another.

Environmental degradation in the pastoral areas where we have been carrying out our research in both Mongolia and Tanzania - linked to mining and population growth as well as climate change - is affecting land tenure practices in some quite unexpected ways. For example, we have found some pastoralist families in Mongolia moving to privatisation of grazing areas where the grasses are good, including through strategies such as 'fake' divorce. We have just recently published our findings about this in Mongolia, you can access it on the link here: 

And see summaries of key findings in both countries downloadable here: (Mongolia) (Tanzania)

Dear  Elizabeth and Fiona,

Thank you for the comments and I fully agree with them. Its now, in most cases, a clear evidence of misunderstanding between mining and the in other side  local herders, communities, and the public at large. Pasture land is degradated by quick growing of animal numbers, and its concentration around water sources, settlement areas,  as well as impacts of mining , where  change the  herder’s seasonal pasture use practice, dusty roads and mining holes, rivers polluted and drying, impacting people's  health and loss of biodiversity, etc.

According to new procedure by  of Mongolian  Government, currently all new mining licenses valid only after decision from Local Government by considering the comments and reactions from local  communities. For this previously was developed Procedure on Public Participation, PP, to Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA,  processes where we take part on it , so it now going to implemented finally.   In the new  procedure on  Public participation  in  EIA,   there are  2 main parties: first one is “project implementer, PI”, second one is  “local community or public”. In economic terms related to the project, first party, or PI can be considered as “mining companies”, and second party or local community, as “public”.

  Therefore, one of benefits of PP in EIA is to help these parties closer to each other from the beginning of mining activities and   implement the mitigation measures to avoid negative impacts of herder’s pasture land use rights and ecosystem health. If public participation will enabled from beginning and will follow all the way of implementation and monitoring of the mining activities, that will be “good project”.

 Currently  with  our partners,  we are  participating on  uploading  data of biggest mining companies, amongist  other  Large Scale Land Acqusitions,  which operates in area more than 200 ha , into Global Land Matrix Database ( , so interested parties and public can access to  the data and monitor the positive and negative economic, social and ecological impacts of mining and other land use deals  and project's in Mongolia and in other countries of Central Asia.  

I really appreciate all the points raised!!

It is obvious that almost all resources in pastoral areas are very variable/ dynamic. To cope up this variability pastoralists are undertaking MOBILITY. So, strategies which can block this major activity will not be accepted by pastoralists. The Ethiopian government is trying to undertake villagization activities in different pastoral areas of the country; Although, this activity is challenged by a lot of constraints. For example, the pastoral and agro-pastoral office of the district provides different cereal crop seeds to pastoralists to cultivate on the lands around the water resources and to supplement their consumption. Of course, they tried to cultivate. But, the cultivated maize is used to feed their animals not to feed themselves. So, It is better to give attention on how the pastoral societies improve their livestock production and productivity; it may be livestock feed production/ improved forage adoption/ ranching....

Dear Natnael,

your comment is very pertinent. However, given the demographic evolution of rangelands mentioned earlier, especially in the Sahel, what role has education to play in getting jobs for everyone? What kind of education does it have to be in order not to break pastoralist livelihoods?

Dear Dr. Pablo

I really appreciate your way of opening issues for discussion;

Education is base for everything as we know, and it is very important for pastoralists too especially if it is designed based on the reality they are facing. For example, pastoralists are very familiar with livestock, pasture, water, rangelands, gender, health and related issues. So, we have to design the education system based on how to manage the resources found in pastoral areas. The education system designed for highlanders should not be applied for lowlanders/ pastoralists. If we continue uploading the western education (Solid science) on them; it is meaningless for them. Even it should not be expected to finish the whole curriculum from grade 1-12, college and university levels; sometimes matured training educations are enough to change the attitude of the people if it is applicable for them. The flavor of the education we are going to apply should be flavored as pastoral- pastoral. And the educational system should be practical based, easily applicable in their native environment. If it is shaped in this way it will not affect the pastoral production system and can be easily accepted by pastoralists.  

I am very happy that you appreciate the facilitation of the dialogue.
I would not label as "western" the scientific curriculum, which has a universal vocation and from which pastoralists can learn a lot when it comes to systematizing their knowledge for the rest of society. But I certainly agree for the rest of your appreciations.
However, the question is more about designing educational strategies that allow the permanence of pastoralists in their environment, while providing exit routes for those who for demographic reasons have no place. It is assumed that with a well-designed education they will have a better chance of obtaining a decent job.

Nomadic education is a system of education specifically designed and implemented in Nigeria for pastoralists. It has worked for over three decades. Government set up an agency to provide basic ediuaction to closely 20 million pastoralists' children in their localities with makeshift tents and mobile teachers or fixed structures for the semi-mobile pastoralist group. But it is sad to report that the achievements recorded are far from the cost of the implementation of the programme. Changes in government, politics and conflicts all combined to stagnate the programme. Recently due to large scale conflicts between farmers and herders, policy makers are thinking twice on the programme. Some are of the opinion that the system should be strenthened while others argue that pastoralists are the problem why educate them.

Indeed it is a well articulated programme but the implementation is bedeviled with many problems beyond the control of the pastoralists. Further information on the programme can be provided for those interested.

Dear Dr. Pablo

It was not to say the formal education system is useless. It is difficult to apply in that unpredictable and variable environmental situation and needs special considerations. Just to give emphasis to the issues on 'the environment itself needs a specific educational system'.

I see some issues raised on causes of conflicts and let me put my insight on this issue.

Generally, the causes of conflict in pastoral areas are: 

1. Absence or ineffective institutional arrangements for managing access to and/or control over variable and unpredictable pastoral resources

2. Absence or inappropriate policies and laws managing competing land uses– especially with conservation, agriculture, settlement and infrastructure.

3. Inappropriate development and natural resource management policies 

4. Weakening, marginalization or collapse of traditional institutions of resource management and conflict resolution

5. Intra-state crises of governance and insecurity in the Horn of Africa 

6. Proliferation of small arms in pastoral areas

7. Opportunism of political leaders in pastoral areas: pastoral political leaders are mostly selected not in a way of merit based


Yes, seasonal pastures in many cases as common resources, therefore participation of all parties (herder’s community, men and women, poor, youth, government and others) in its management is vital. However it depend from local traditions and culture.

So policy and management intervention is another challenge for pastoralists now.

    In reality on the ground, if herder’s and others support such co-management of rangelands, then it can be tool to overcome the pasture degradation, overgrazing and reduce poverty. But ,for this to happen , the roles and responsibilities of local communities, herder’s and governments need to be clearly established and agreed, and legal, policy support by national governments should be put in place with clear tenure arrangements.

However this is not always a case for rangelands

Arguments in favour of pastoralism can sometimes be seen as “Hobsons’s choice”: it’s not great, but it’s the best we can do in the rangelands. The argument that “Pastoralism takes place on marginal land that cannot be used for crop cultivation” leaves pastoralists open to dispossession every time a new farming system is developed. This is happening with irrigation, with drought tolerant crops, and with a variety of other solutions to dryland farming. These competing land uses receive far greater investment in research and development than pastoralism.

The arguments for pastoralism can be too apologetic and can sell pastoralism short, and they are failing the planet as a whole. Rangelands provide many benefits to society, and many of those benefits are taken for granted and ignored. Rangelands store a third of the world’s terrestrial carbon and play a role in climate change mitigation. They are home to more than a third of the world’s biodiversity and include iconic species that are valued worldwide. Rangelands occupy globally important watersheds: more than a third of the world’s major river basins lie at least 50% in the rangelands. Look at East Asia where the Yellow River, the Yangtze, the Mekong and several others flow out of the Tibetan rangelands and provide water to the most populous, fastest growing economic region on the planet.

Our research in Jordan found that the benefit of restoring rangelands—which we achieved by reviving the traditional Bedouin practice of Al Hima—outweighed the cost by more than 20 to 1. The increase in fodder production was alone sufficient to balance the cost of implementation, but the biggest value by far was the improvement in water supply to downstream industries. The second biggest benefit was the long term supply of hydro-power as a result of reduced sedimentation. It is not the Bedouin who will benefit from these services.

Unfortunately, when alternative land uses are developed in the rangelands the value is compared with pastoralism on a hectare-to-hectare food production basis. This ignores all the non-food values that pastoralism supports, and it ignores all the negative externalities, or hidden costs, often incurred in the new land use system. On top of this the data used to value the pastoral livestock economy is often grossly underestimated and incomplete. Unsurprisingly the alternatives look pretty attractive.

Rangelands are facing a considerable threat of land degradation—most recently estimated at between 25% and 33% depending on how you measure it—and the single biggest driver of degradation is land conversion, which primarily means crop cultivation. This land conversion is taking place in regions where food security is a leading development priority, so the cost of land degradation to those societies needs to be well understood. Similarly the value and the potential of pastoralism needs to be far better understood. A few years ago a WISP study showed that the pastoral livestock populations of two Sahelian and one European country were more or less the same, but in the European country the total contribution of pastoralism to GDP was 10 times greater.

Pastoralism is particularly threatened by land conversion, not necessarily because of the scale, but because crop production must take place in areas with reliable water supply. Pastoralists often avoid these areas when possible due to the incidence of livestock disease, but they provide vital resources in key seasons. They may represent a small percentage of pastoral lands, but during a particular season they can be the difference between life and death, or between survival and destitution.

However, pastoralism is not just about survival. It is about capturing the value of the rangelands, through livestock production and through complementary livelihood activities. Pastoralists are not poor by definition and in several countries pastoralists are thriving on a diverse portfolio of incomes that balance livestock production with environmental services. Nobody doubts that forest managers should be paid for protecting watersheds or storing carbon, so is it any different for rangeland managers?

None of this is to say that pastoral lands can never be put to better use, but the argument is that any land use change has to be evaluated against the full range of costs that are incurred, not only on-site, but throughout the rangeland landscape that is compromised when pastoralism is undermined, and also downstream where huge populations depend for their welfare on rangeland ecosystem services.

The rangelands in Morocco are in the collective domain or the forest domain. The former are managed by ethnic groups under the Ministry of the Interior and the latter are managed by Waters and Forests. Land challenges facing rangelands and their users are :

- Agreements inside tribes and among tribes, revealing customary law, are more and more abandoned; which create anarchy in the management of rangelands

- The new law on rangelands, it's the only one, came too late to certain regions, this law wants to secure the land by the mastery of the transhumance between regions, but is not interested in what is happening in collective pastures within a commune.

- Too many laws that govern the pathways, customary law and modern law;

-  No modern law on the encouragement of Agdals who are governed by the customary law.

- Tree clearing by right-holders;

- Women's land rights are not respected by customary law, which creates conflicts;

- Disappearance of stock routes for transhumance

- Irrigated Agriculture Projects

Hi Fagouri, You mentioned about women's land rights not being protected by customary laws, but then you also said one of the weaknesses in the pastoral system is the loss of customary law. So is this a good or bad thing for women? Are women better off securing their rights outside the customary system?  Don't you think by pushing women's individual rights one  is likely to further weaken the collective pastoral should women's rights in the customary system be strengthened....or what do you suggest?

For the question of women's rights to the courses it's a long story.

1.- Until 2004: in customary law, if a woman lives in the village and she has animals, married or unmarried, she has the right to graze in forest rangelands but not in some other collective lands,

If she does not live in the village she has no rights.

If the collective land is divided to be cultivated, the woman had no part.

2.- Since 2004: with the new family code, the woman has the same rights as the man in the rangelands, sometimes there are problems if her husband is from another tribe who has conflicts with the tribe of her family, but if she goes to court she wins, she is given her right.

Currently there is a ministry dedicated to human rights in charge of all land affairs.

It takes time to change mentalities.

Firstly, it is good to remember that my participation at the Rangelands Initiative is within the ILC institutionally defined Semi-Arid Platform of Latin America. It is from this platform that we are part of Rangelands in its LAC version. However, we have always clarified that an important issue to be clear is that we do not always use the terms in the same way. Pastures, Shepherds, Semiarids, Family Farming, Agrosilvopastoralist, Cattle ranching, hunters and gatherers, etc.

We understand the enormous value of belonging to diverse groups that share similar ideas in terms of resource management, access to water, sustainable proposals, private and community lands, etc. as it is for example under the umbrella of the Rangelands Initiative, but this should not "standardize" concepts or try to see everything with the same lens. Trying this makes technical and political discourse unsustainable.

Concrete examples:

Organizations of the Central American Dry Corridor, the Northeast of Brazil, the Tri-national Chaco and Venezuela are represented in Semiaridos de América Latina. In these regions the systems are very diverse. In the CADC for example we speak of communities and individual producers of 0.5 to 2 has average, in Brazil and all the northeast of an average of between 5 and 8 has and in the trinational Chaco we can have communities ranging from hundreds of thousands of has to 50 has. This reality already definitively marks different ways of seeing the action plans and raising the issues. In some more for family farming, in others more for living spaces, in others with livestock proposals under the mountain, in others developing agriculture, etc.

The other concept to handle with care is that of "pastoralists". In general terms we can not say that all fit under that concept. It is more appropriate for us the concept "population that uses grasslands" and even understanding that in some cases they move along territories in search of water and grass as it happens more in highland valleys or in some hunter and gatherer communities. But it is something very different from pastoralism in Africa or Asia.

The issue of livestock farming or agrosilvopastoral systems is another chapter but very associated with criollo peasant communities that have their main interest in this activity.

The issue of access to land also plays a central role not only for what it means as a right but also for what it means in the consequences to the future. In general terms, due to our experience, access to land is a job that "fixes the territory" to communities and, of course, to livestock farmers. These successful land access processes strengthen concepts of "private property" in livestock keepers and in hunter and gatherer communities accelerate the process of "urbanization" in population centers with services. That is why it is important to clarify the concepts so as not to fall into traps ourselves because there may even be a reading that the work developed during decades for land access is contrary to the concepts of traditional pastoralism or traditional life systems. In short, what is sought is access to land, water and other natural resources where communities and ranchers can develop their life systems improving their production and ultimately their quality of life. But this means enormous cultural transformations in all the intervening groups.

About to finish: I find the discussion about livestock and its role in climate change extremely interesting. Discussion to which the use of cellulose by ruminants to transform the grass into meat, milk, wool, etc. should be added. I do not think the dilemma is for livestock to be or not to be, but for how we prepare the best argument to face the data and positions that try to discredit the production of meat in pastures. Almost like preparing rather the discourse "outward" than "inward" where I understand we will be in the majority coinciding on the value of this type of production management in these regions.

Finally, there are many good systematized practices in access to land, water, to organizational and political processes that can be shared. In fact, one of the actions planned between Semiaridos, Rangelands and other initiatives is to strengthen the exchange processes that generate greater social mobility and generation of knowledge. These cases are published in the global database of the ILC and if it is deemed necessary, we can attach them for consultation.

You bring up a good point, Gabriel, about diversity across global rangelands. There is a danger in assuming that there are certain features that are *inherent* to rangelands and pastoralists (broadly defined), when in fact these are just characteristics of *particular* systems, and these specific differences have very real implications for how global-scale platforms and organizations should discuss and advocate for the right institutions and policies for rangeland governance. These differences really stand out to me when I try to situate my understandings of mountain pastoralism (my current focus is Tajikistan) in the dominant pastoralism literature, which has a strong Sahelian and East African focus.

To be more specific, when find that very often there are two pairs of words that problematically get conflated. The first pair is MOBILITY and FLEXIBILITY, often discussed as twin needs for effective exploitation of rangelands. In the particular mountainous areas where I have worked, there is a vital but predictable need for livestock to travel between lowland areas in the winter and high-altitude areas in the summer. Mobility is CENTRAL to pastoralism, but this mobility does not need to be flexible. This is directly tied to another pair of words that are often conflated: VARIABILITY and UNCERTAINTY, often discussed as universal features of rangelands. While weather is never 100% certain anywhere, the climates where I work produce four fairly predictable seasons. Fodder availability is highly variable within a single year, but pattern of its variability is quite predictable--very different from the non-equilibrium ecosystems of, say, the Sahel.

Just as the global export of Western ranching systems to non-equilibrium pastoral contexts was highly inappopriate and doomed for failure, there is ALSO a risk of universalizing the new pastoral paradigms based on non-equilibrium ecology and assuming that it is an accurate characterization of all pastoral systems. The differences between mobility vs. flexibility, and variability vs. uncertainty are vital to designing land policies that are context-appropriate as opposed to copy-pasting "portable policies" without sufficient research.

Dear Kramer,

This is a very important issue. Are pastoralist systems really following the same logic? How careful should we be in applying lessons from abroad?

My field experience spans from mountain systems in Spain whose logic is fairly similar to the ones in Tajikistan (, to the Sahel & Horn of Africa, India, Mongolia and the South American semi-arids. I must say precisely the Sahel has a pretty predictable albeit highly variable pattern as you describe, as there are very precise dry season and rainy season areas. In fact, that region is among those with the best defined stock routes, which are legally protected, a fact that shows that both transit and itineraries are very fix. The variability influences dates of departure and return, but that's a trait I have seen in other systems. Areas with less-defined corridors such as Mongolia or the Horn of Africa are I think influenced by a milder competition from agricultural uses, whereas in South America the livestock journeys tend to be significantly shorter and in India the dry-season grounds have historically been integrated in crop-production fallows.

But the question of corridors has been only marginally raised in this discussion, and I think it is worth discussing in deep. Especially because increasing demography and competition of land uses, as has been described in many comments, is expected to put pressure on mobility, so it may be worth learning from those areas where the pressure was there before and that have long-established corridors.

Pablo thank you raising this very important issue

In Nigeria before independence in 1960 transhumance was recognised, grazing reserves and grazing corridors were created to take care of mobile pastoralists. These corridors were demarcated and gazzetted by the Federal Government. Later on land reforms vested the lands on regional/States governments. This policy change made it difficult for pastoralists to 'own' these demarcated land. As population kept on increasing, these corridors were taken over by crop farmers. The failure of government to invest in these lands made pastoralists marginal users: this development intensified the conflicts between farmers and pastoralists.


- resucitation of old grazing corridors and creation of new ones;

- investment in these corridors by government for both human and livestock- schools, vet clinics etc;

- mobilisation and sensitization of livestock breeders to settle in these corridors;

- need for policies and legislature to protect pastoralism since they control over 85% livestock in Nigeria and supply over 90% beef to over 180million people

Thank you Kgilin

In west Africa we are confused on these two terms too. While for pastoralism mobility is quite central to its practice, for the crop farmers and other land users mobility of livestock is seen as a big  problem. It is understood or misunderstood that it is the leading cause of conflicts in the region. Policy makers are at a cross- road on how to legislate on these issues. The other land users apart of pastoralists see a window in the western style of ranching. The ecology and history of western ranching are quite different from what is obtainable in the sahialian region. 

How else can you tell a landless pastoralists to ranch over 100 cattle. While he has no title to land and the land is so priced that he may need to sell all his livestock to pay for the piece of land to keep the livestock.

Recently some local policies have been put in place to put a ban on livestock mobility in Nigeria and the results of the implementation of the laws are so bad for a space like this.

Very good observation, Jaoji. I would only remark that those fascinated by western recipies such as ranching can be told that there are also many mobile pastoralist systems in the West that do thrive. I already shared an example from Spain but here it is again: There is another one from the United States here:

Within Australia, commercial arrangements facilitate mobility. Since land is, in the main, privately owned and managed there is not a large area of communal lands availble for grazing. When drought forces pastoralists to move their sheep or cattle, they will pay a weekly rate to occupy part of another property under a short-term arrangement known as agistment. In some cases, an entire property may be leased under a longer-term arrangement. In each case, the owner of the livestock has exclusive access to the pasture and water of the area they have agisted or leased. Livestock are generally transported by trucks on roads, and occassionally by trains on the rail network.

There are also public grazing corridors and reserves that enable the mobility of livestock, allowing for stock to be moved from one destination to another whilst grazing and with access to water. In Australia this is referred to as 'droving'. Livestock are herded along these public corridors on horseback, motor-bikes and vehicles. Access to these corridors and reserves is not exclusive, but is managed through a permit system.

There have been many reviews into this system of reserves, generally asking the question if public corridors are still relevent and they provide public value in the modern world. The reviews generally conclude that these corridors provide a valuable link to allow livestock movement, especially during drought.

These are examples of how mobility can be maintained, even within a sedentary system of private ownership. I am not suggesting that this is the solution for Africa or Asia where transhumance is still widely practiced. However, it may be a useful example that allows for corridors of interlinked communal lands to be maintained where the political and social landscape is favouring settlement and private ownership.

Hi Kramer, Very interesting points....particulary about assuming that things words such as mobility and flexibility go together. One thing the Rangelands Initiative is looking to do this year is to strengthen land-related indicators for pastoralism - and so your points are very relevant fo this. I know very little about livestock keeping/pastoralism in Tajikistan - so forgive me if my question shows my ignorance - but even is seasons are fairly predictable doesn't Tajikistan face unpredictable climatic events every so often such as bad winter snows..? And is there any evidence that climate is becoming less predictable in Tajikistan as seems to be the case in other places? If so, then flexibility would be required wouldn't it?

Hi Fiona,

That sounds like a fascinating and vital undertaking for the Rangelands Initiative! Will those be quantifiable indicators or something a bit more adaptable to particular contexts? Has there been any preliminary work on this so far? Is the goal for these to apply to all pastoral contexts? I very much look forward to watching that project take shape!

Regarding Tajikistan, I should say right now that there is diversity within the country, from a) cross-regional transhumance between arid lowlands and mountain summer pastures to b) shorter-distance seasonal migration systems that exist entirely within the mountainous region (often referred to as Alpwirtschaft or "mixed mountain agriculture" in the literature). In the temperate drylands--as far as I've read--flexibility has been found to be most important as a coping mechanism during the dry season (the season that limits animal production). In these mountain systems--and especially in the second system I mentioned--the limiting season is the winter, and at this time the animals are actually stall fed from cut fodder. This is the time when weights drop and livestock die. Coping strategies during exceptionally difficult winters include animal sale, animal slaughter, and purchase of fodder, but there are no coping strategies here related to land access.

To be sure, Tajikistan, like all countries, faces unpredictable climatic events. From what I've seen, however, these climate events seem to operate across a given "grazing shed" such that all areas are similarly effected. That is, some years are really tough and some are good, but you couldn't really just change your grazing itinerary a bit to get to somewhere better (at least not at the scales these herders are working at).

For any given group, maximizing flexibility would *always* be helpful if it produced no ill effects. As we have seen across the world, increasing flexibility can pose challenges for tenure security and can lead to an increase likelihood of land-related conflicts. In non-equilibrium systems where such flexibilty is vital to a viable pastoral livelihood, then these drawbacks are necessary evils, but in places with less stochasticity, it is probably better to direct policy efforts towards equitable access and high mobility.

Thanks so much for your comments and good questions here. Very good to hear from you!

Thanks Gabriel for your comments - as you say though our contexts around the world are very different there are also some commonalities and relevant experiences to share and we look forward to continue working with you on how best to do this. In the next two weeks we will have the Rangelands Initiative website launched and here we will have a direct link to all the drylands/rangelands ILC Good Practices - and we also aim to produce a consolidated version of these that I hope you will assist us with (particulalry in relation to drawing out some of the key points from the LAC Good Practices!).

Dear all,

Sorry for joining the discussion thread late. Uganda as a country is undergoing land policy reforms. Despite the fact that rangelands fall under these land reforms it means that pastoral lands which happen to be highly customary and managed by community through traditional knowledge is clearly under threat by the current land reforms and so the land gazetted for livestock, wildfruit and vegatable gatherings is likely to be highly affected by the developments anticipated by the government hence threatening livelihoods opportunities for the pastoralist. 

Rangelands in Karamoja are also being over degarded and reduced by infrastructural developments; such as murram mining by road construction companies which have created big gullies and dishes within the rangelands, extractive/ mining companies have extended land under mining and exploration further into the rangelands hence reducing the rangeland sizes, emerging industrial parks in Karamoja has also resulted into the annexation of rangelands in Karamoja, Over grazing, and subsistence farming mainly performed by women and elderly men. 

Pastoralists Mobility has also been over looked as one the best means to claim land to be under utilized in Karamoja areas of Uganda. Meanwhile as the dry season come the pastoralist are pushed towards the conservation areas for access of pasture and water but the situation has also been overlooked as an opportunity to grab land left aside by pastoralists for regeneration/ next season grazing. The rangelands are also looked as the conservation land scapes for wildlife and forestry conservation hence isolating pastoralists access to pasture and water. 

In reality, rangelands are faced by negative perceptions depending on the land use needs and the first user of the rangeland will claim to be over exploited or violated by another user.

For example a pastoralist claims ownership of the rangeland claiming that they are the only rangeland users because his/ her visible daily activities in the rangeland. But it should be noted that rangelands world wide are some of the world herritage sites which play multiple roles than any ecosystem in this world such as contain pastoralism, wildlife conservation, drylands food crops and wild fruits, mineral explorations, clean water sources, a home to most terrestrial organisms and home to the world indigenous people. So when looking at such opportunities we should be ready to face and also mitigate possible conflicts resulting from such various ecosystem users.

Rangeland user conflicts always (can) arise when one user claims the ultimate ownership of one resource found in the rangeland. Why pastoralist communities claim ultimate ownership of the rangeland? It is because there main resource there is livestock, pasture, water, wild fruits, vegetable and woodfuel. However, the other users such as conservationists, Agriculturalists and extractive/ explorers are in need of the same land in this rangeland hence end up conflicting, or it is because of who colonised first than the other. In these regard the small uses listed above are also misleading the most of the experts in such fields of environment, Natural resources, livestock, climate change, Agriculturalist and ecologists to conflict hence fail to protect and also device holistic opportunities for coexistence of different users of the resource.

QN. Why are rangelands over discussed in regards to pastoralism in most cases instead of the main opportunities gain by different users?

Hi Loupa,  Thanks for your comments. Can you refresh me/us on the policy and legal context in Uganda - is there room for protecting pastoralist land rights in Uganda as communal land? And if so, to what degree has this been applied? 

Thanks Fiona,

Literally Uganda land sector is undergoing reformations. As earlier on I mentioned, the current land context of the majority of Uganda is under customary tenure and in most cases the lands are not registered, surveyed and also titled and in most cases it is higher in pastoralists societies whose live styles are overlooked as primitive and uncoordinated. Pastoralism in Uganda is seen as a development challenge in the Country Uganda. Well the current policy debate on land in Uganda is that Government can acquire land compulsorily from the landlord or community before compensation and by all means as the matters go on negotiaton in the courts of law. 

The current ongoing Land Amendment Bill if passed as government is pressing, is bound to impact very negatively on the traditional lands of the Karamojong pastoralists, maybe more than other communities. This is because most chunks of land are communally owned and not titled hence very convenient to grab. One of the proposed sections allows government to compulsorily acquire land for public sector investment from a land owner and negotiate with the latter while development is in progress. This puts the land owner in a very weak situation given that the government valuer who is supposed to determine the value of the land is him/herself an agent of the state which is party to the disagreement. The bill also provides for government to deposit money with a court while protracted negotiations are going on. The court system in Uganda is very slow and generally justice does not favour the poor which will disadvantage the people of Karamoja even more.

Therefore is need for concerted effort now to protect most of this important rangelands and community lands for the future needs of pastoralist and other communities in Uganda.

I have been following the discussion with keen interest. I particularly agree with contribution of  Natnael, the 7 points he listed are mostly the true causes of conflicts in pastoral areas.


I agree with useful reasons raised by others including Natnael on the causes of these conflicts in hot spot areas.

In addition to that from the experiences and documentation globally,  most  of them mentioned Rangeland areas, also they refer areas with pastoralists as hot spot areas for land use conflicts. This is because of these  areas are prone and  attractive  to large scale land based investments. Rangeland is the only place where can get huge chunk of land for large scale investements to serve investment purposes.

We have done study in 2016 in colaboration with pastoralits actors on land use conflcts in hot spot districts in Tanzania; and also in 2017 the study of state of land base investsment in the country done by Land based investment working group line up under National Engagement Strategy (NES) Tanzania. These findings are still similar in all studies that among of the reasons is land based investement models as the causes of theses conflict in rangeland. The key drivers is Local governement authroiries that pioneers these investements (takes more than 75% of the causes of land land based investment conflicts).

Hi Zakaria, The NLUPC is coming up with some interesting maps on hotspots for land conflicts - we are also supporting them as part of the Sustainable Rangeland Management Project. The one for Morogoro is almost all "red"!

Rangelands challenges

The general investment trends in the East Africa region presents many challenges. Firstly; the absence of framework that provides the communities with information and the actual foreseen and unforeseen impact is lacking or weak. Secondly; mechanisms for strategic benefits from such investments by the rangelands users is absent or in situations where they exist, they favour the investor and governments more. Thirdly; weak institutions for securing the rangelands and resources therein.  Often the investments and investors do not reflect on the implications of the investment to the rangelands. In fact to the investors and largely to the government rangelands is and has no life!

The second set of challenges are around the capacity and coordination of interventions in the rangelands. Recognizing the different issues from conflict to climate change, weak governance systems and structures as well and socio-economic needs. There are as many actors. These actors often do not speak to each other and therefore interventions do not generate effective and complimenting linkages. But even as this is happening, structures and demonstrable capacities that understands the completeness of rangelands; people, resources and livelihoods within the rangelands is not adequate this simply translates to strategic structural challenges.

Thanks Ken.

Just an addition. Not forgeting the policy definition of the rangelands from other lands. Genralization of land is also a challenge. However, some of the countries still do not have the policies in regards to rangelands protection and uses. Example the Uganda Rangeland management and pastoralism policy has since remained a draft in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF),



Just a couple of other bullets;


•Changes in land tenure rights and land use systems.

•climate change phenomenon

•changing land control systems, actors and institutional mechanisms for managing resources

•Increased Resources Based Conflicts in rangelands is an endemic phenomenon. It arises as a result of:

•Competition over access and control of scarce resources,

•climate change and emerging phenomena of sedentarization.

Where are the hotspot areas of land use conflicts, and what are the causes of these conflicts?

The common hot spots 

1. Grazing areas

2. Water points 

3. conservation areas 

4. Borderlands 

5. Homesteads/ settelment areas

6. Farm lands


1. Lose of traditional institutions roles in Uganda 

2. Corruption 

3. Transboundary movement by communities

4. Competition between User rights 

5. Climate change reality

6. Expansion of Agriculture as a result of soil fertility loss

7. policy challenges 

8. Political atmosphere in Africa

I wanted to reinforce a central and definitive element when it comes to securing the rangelands. In Latin America in most of the forested areas where the Semi-Arid Platform of Latin America works, there is not only a problem of land and territory titles, but also serious problems of access to water for both family consumption and, of course, production. The underground water has problems of geological salinity, arsenic and the best layers if they exist at enormous depths of 300, 400 or 700 meters, which makes their extraction very expensive. But without water, it is no use securing lands and territories. Therefore, developing water access strategies in synergy with access to territories is essential to have a concrete action program to improve the quality of life. In this sense, many organizations in the continent have developed strategies for access to water under a "Basic Human Right". A great example has been Brazil and what was done in the Northeast with the One Million Cisterns program that gave water to 5 million Brazilians in the last 20 years. That experience today is being replicated throughout the continent. We consider then that Securing rangelands should go hand in hand with securing water first for families and their daily life but also for their life and production systems. There is a lot of experience of these systematized works that we can make available to those who require it.

Hi Gabriel, Could you explain a little more about the "One Million Cisterns" in Brazil. Assuming that with more water there as more livestock being how did/do they stop the rangeland being degraded (i.e. it is not only water but also imrpoving the productivity of the rangeland that is needed)...or did/do they provide supplementary foods? In parts of Ethiopia we have seen how putting in cisterns (individiual in particular) the collective tenure system has been destroyed and land increasingly degraded as a result. I wonder how this issue was approached in Brazil?

Thanks Fiona for the question about the One Million Cisterns Program in Brazil. The first point to clarify is that in the Brazilian Northeast the average area of a farmer is 8 hectares of land and his productive system is not livestock but centered on family farming where they have some heads of cattle and some heads of smaller livestock. They are semiarid lands but each family is settled on their own property. The basic problem, as in all the different semiarids of LAC, is to first solve the access to water for human consumption and then comes the stage of advancing on improving productive practices.

Under this issue, some 3,000 civil society organizations  in Brazil in the last 20 years (on the basis of the social work developed during the previous 30 years) developed a Public - Private program of Universal Access to Water called 1 million Cisterns that consisted of allowing 1 million families have access to safe water for human consumption. Together with the State that financed the program, they generated an impressive social movement (I do not know another one of this magnitude in LAC and even in the world) and more than 1.2 million cisterns were built, where 5 million Brazilians ensured access to water. The program was financed by the State and the Civil Society grouped in ASA (Articulation of the Brazilian Semi-Arid) was in charge of executing it, developing a plan of capacity building, appropriation of technology and operation. The technological system is extremely simple: Rainwater harvesting and this includes a cistern of 16,000 liters (it ensures fresh water for a family during 8 months of drought at a consumption of 13 liters per person / day). The interesting and strategic aspect of this plan to access family water is that it allowed families to stay on their land and immediately begin to think and develop techniques for productive improvement. Among them technologies of access to water for agricultural and livestock production and so we add Cisterns of 52,000 liters with catchment on land, dams, sewers in stones, etc.

In our initial comment then, we remarked that without water there are no rangelands for families and that this seemed to be a central point since, in addition, this ensured a better management of their lands and to think about other production alternatives in cases where not only livestock is held but also systems combined with livestock and agriculture as is the case in Brazil. In LAC there are also only-livestock systems with more or less mobility but where we can do similar analyses.

Ladies and gentlemen; 

I am following the discussion attentively; totally I agreed with what you all raised. Really thank you for that! And I am very much interested if you share me additional points on the current status of your country's rangeland.

Let me share you some points on the current status of Ethiopian rangelands:

From the total land mass of Ethiopia 62% is rangeland. However; the rangelands are poorly managed throughout the country resulting in serious land degradation, reduced biodiversity, gradual decline in nutritive value and replacement by none palatable, drought tolerant invasive species. Encroachments by weeds and undesirable woody plants have been threatening the pastoral production system in the Horn of Africa, particularly in eastern Africa.  

Ethiopian rangelands are under the threat of herbaceous and woody plants invasion. Herbaceous weedy species like Xanthium spp. and Parthenium hysterophorus, woody species like Prosopis juliflora and different Acacia species and succulents like Opuntia spp. are increasing. They are responsible for a significant reduction in production of the potential of the rangelands. Increasing deforestation, recurrent droughts, and over-grazing might have caused the deterioration of the rangeland vegetation, thereby weakening the grazing and browsing capacities of the rangelands. At present, most of the rangelands (>80%) in Ethiopia are invaded by noxious weeds like Parthenium hysterophorus and Prosopis juliflora.


Dear Natnael,

Weeds are definitely a huge problem. Unfortunately when invasives get to a given threshold it is normally impossible (either technically or economically) to eradicate them. I am wondering if some alternatives for complementary income that can help controlling them are being implemented in Ethiopia or elsewhere. There has been some talk on making flour out of Prosopis pods, as well as using the trees to produce charcoal, which is so appreciated for import in the Gulf states. I also recently visited Mpala research centre in Laikipia, Kenya, and saw how Opuntia is being fairly controlled by cochineal, which has also value as high-value dye. This contrasted with horrendous infestations I witnessed in Somaliland.

Natnael - thanks - and I see you now mention Parthenium etc. as I commented to you earlier on in the dialogue!   

Pablo - there are some particularly in Kenya who argue for utilisation of e.g. Prosopis - though even here e.g. in KEFRI they are now seeing problems with this approach in such as Baringo.  The experience in Ethiopia is that the small NGO projects that have tried to support utilisation have only added to the problem - we have seen this time and time again over the last decade or so. After many years working on the issue in Ethiopia and with several of us lobbying the government it has been agreed that the key objective is to destroy the plant - yes, agreed this is a "wish" and in reality very diffiuclt (if not impossible) to achieve - but  it is good to have this as a goal/vision and we do not want to go back to opening up discussions on utilisation as a general strategy!  Ethiopia now has a National Strategy for the Management of Prosopis and it has three threads to it - one to prevent (i.e. in those areas not yet invaded or at risk of invasion), two to remove (i.e in priority areas of high productivity for grazing or crops), and three to control (i.e. in not-so-high priority areas where removal is not possible at the moment). In that last one (number three) there is room for discussion about using the biomass in a very controlled manner and the government is in discussions with e.g. cement factories about this. I can send you the Strategy if you are interested. But to open the conversation back up to talk about utilisation (e.g. for animal feed, wood products, charcoal) in a more general sense is dangerous and could knock the conversation back a decade.....there have been many many conversations and discussions about care is needed!

I would add here that there are some interesting land issues wrapped up with the Prosopis issue in Ethiopia such as what to do with land after it has been cleared...who has rights to it.... etc, etc.   Also what level of land tenure security or pressure on land access is required for local people to invest in taking more care over Prosopis......

Fiona is very right. We cannot  manage rangeland if we ignore the issue of Prosopis.  The impacts  of Prosopis is at many places with rangelands, and Prosopis used to replace and dominate indigenous species or pasture within very short time, and lead to inavailability of pasture for livestocks within rangeland, and sometime makes rangeland unproductive with other species of  pasture. 

There are various ongoing experiments  done in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania by various universities from USA, Europe  and East Africa  by PhD students in colaboration with national reserach institutions through Woody Invasive Alien Species in Eastern Africa. These exeperiments aimed to assess and mitigate the impacts of Prosopis on ecosystem and natural livelihoods. Among others, these exeperiments proved that there is high need to consider these impacts and effects from Prosopis if we really want to address issue of rangeland managent once we secure. Luckly, these experiments came up with tested land manangent measures for Prosopis that suit to protect and ensure sustainability of indegeneous pastures within rangeland


Fiona, I understand, but one small question - Prosopis use does not work for small projects because it has to be handled with too much care, and the capacity/means/investment for that goes beyond what is available for communities or NGOs?

Weeds in the pastures of Kyrgyzstan

One of the hard-to-solve problems that drives the Kyrgyz pasture society into a dead end is the growing growth of a weed such as the Karagan (there are more than 50 species) that cattle do not eat, but every year this shrub captures an increasing territory, its annual increase is 2 %. According to pasture users, they tried to fight this weed mechanically, that is, mow down, but after that it grows even better. Trials with chemicals also did not help. This plant, they note, has a large root system that extends a hundred meters underground. The only solution, as the head of the pasture committee noted in his turn, is to fight this weed with the help of goats. "As we advised the American international consultants, we have to mow the weed and when it's just starting to grow - run goats that eat this plant in its young form, and trample it," he said. Summarizing the event, experts noted that it would be prudent to finance projects supporting the land fund of the republic. In their opinion, the issue of preserving pasture lands of Kyrgyzstan is a matter of stability of the country's social and economic development.

Elvira - is it possible to send me a photo of the Karagan weed you are talking about - and/or its latin name so we can see what it is . 

Dear Fiona and Elvira,

Reference is made to карагана, i.e. the Caragana genus of shrubs in the legume family. More info and pictures at

Rangelands in West Africa are facing major challenges, some of which I would like to share in the context of the rich ongoing discussions:

• The agricultural mechanization model developed in most West African countries is contributing to the control of large areas at the expense of rangelands.

• The agricultural expansion with the advent of tractors and other plowing technologies, is also supported by the misuse of pesticides, especially herbicides that have created a lot of damage to mobile livestock systems in recent years.

• All of these agricultural technologies also feed various spatial control practices and territorialization strategies in rural communities. Rangelands are largely controlled as part of these dynamics.

• Plantations, especially cashew orchards, have developed in various parts of West Africa to the detriment of rangelands. Recent studies have shown that cashew plantations have been used for bottom-up territorialization in countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and so on.

• Beyond the territorialization from below, mentioned above, the practices of territorialization from the top or the patrimonialization by public policies and international institutions contribute enormously to the control of rangelands.

• The land reforms implemented in several countries in recent years have contributed to the fragmentation of rangelands to the detriment of pastoralists. In some cases, various forms of land grabbing allow external actors to control large areas. For example, the rural land/tenure plan (Plan Foncier Rural) developed in Benin has led to new land dynamics that create winners and losers as part of a socio-economic differentiation.

• Climate change is perceived as a reality in many West African communities where natural resources once valued by various actors have disappeared or are declining on rangelands. This depletion of resources impacts negatively on rangeland users, especially the pastoralists.

Mongolia's extensive rangeland issues include: 

* Overgrazing due to increased number of livestock (66,2 million heads as of Dec 2017)

* Carrying capacity is exceeded and it leads degradation (there are statistic studies I can share)

* Limited access to markets, especially to export markets for livestock products. Due to animal disease such as FMD and PPR outbreaks there is a high restrictions and requirements to export meat. It impacts greatly the livelihoods of pastoralists. In other words animal disease - no markets - increased number of livestock - degradation and poor livelihoods and not resilient enough. Few companies are exporting heat processed and vacuum packed chilled meat products to Iran, China-Xinjiang, Russia, Japan and EU. Government of Mongolia announced that the meat export increased 7 times in 2017 which seems showing good result, however, there are still lot to do in terms of quality and sustain the markets. Government priority is to increase meat exports, however, there are still issues to solve in the animal disease. Therefore recently the Parliament has adopted two new laws: Animal Health Law and Animal Genetics Law. 

* There is no regulation of pasture land, no legal environment. More than 10 years of discussion and trial to get approval of law on pasture protection and still no result. 

* The biggest project in Mongolia focusing on pasture issues is the SDC's Greengold project. They conducted various research works and methodologies to identify carrying capacity, degradation status and developed options for alternative income generation based on livestock product marketing, mainly yak and camel wool as well as some meat value chains. 

* There is a customary rights issue in Mongolia in terms using rangelands. Although the above mentioned project is intended greatly to protect the pastureland and improve livelihoods of local communities, there are some practical concerns on their pilots of making tri-partite rangeland agreements. 

* Due to mining activities there also issues around conflict between herders and mining companies and impact on wildlife migration and habitat. 

* In some areas, in the north, which is the only fertile landscape for crop farming has conflict with herders due to land tenure rights.

Dear Munkhbolor - I hope in the next few days you will come back and tell us some ideas of practical solutions to these challenges!

Agriculture is the leading cause of conversion of rangelands. Over the past 50 years, rangelands have been reduced in size. As a result, what rangelands remain are considerably more arid and less productive than those traditionally exploited by pastoralists. They are also more fragmented, either because of land conversion or because of private pastures, often illegally fenced off from common properties, resulting in less ecological connectivity (thus more constraints on natural processes) and less livelihood viability.

But there are also indirect effects of agricultural expansion, such as with Lake Turkana, where the damming of the Omo River would likely lead to reduced flow into the Lake, which is already shrinking. This will have a profound impact on rangelands and the livelihoods of the Turkana, Mursi, and others. Rangelands upstream will be replaced with irrigated sugar and cotton, while the rangelands downstream will dry up. The governments of Kenya and Ethiopia do not recognize the customary common property tenure of the pastoralists and therefore there are no serious plans for compensation.

Further reading in the recent OIE publication.[1]

[1] Niamir-Fuller, M. (2016). Towards sustainability in the extensive and intensive livestock sectors. In: J. Zinsstag, E. Schelling & B. Bonfoh (eds.), The future of pastoralism. Scientific and Technical Review 35 (2). OIE, Paris.

Dear Participants,

Thank you for the rich participation! I'd like to continue with contributions to the second question of our debate. What are some good practice examples, experiences and lessons learned of making rangelands more secure? Please share you views on:

- What are the example of enabling policy and legislation that supports the rights of local land uses to rangelands? Are they successful? And if so, what are the main elements of success?

- What initiatives exist that have secured rights of local rangeland users to land and resources and why have these succeeded where others have not?

- What initiatives exist that have improved land use planning processes resulting in more effective use of land and reconciliation of differences between land users?

- To what degree are these initiatives participatory and inclusive ensuring that all stakeholders are involved including often marginalised groups?

- What new technology has been used to make the securing of rangelands more effective and efficient?

- What examples exist of initiatives that have successfully resolved land use conflicts and what lessons can we learn from these for further application?

Keep the spirit!

The Role of CCRO in Tanzania’s Land Rights Approach: A Legal Tool for Strengthening Tenure and making rangelands more secure. The Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO) as special and a valuable legal tool (approach) for strengthening land tenure, and secure rangelands for pastoralists whose livelihoods and practices calls for commonly shared resources. This requires a collective property regime tool (CCRO) which effectively formalizes the land rights of these often marginalized groups. A CCRO promotes equality by protecting the interests of an entire group, thus strengthening the rights of vulnerable people, women, children and other minorities in a community who share and depend on communal land and its resources. Prior to CCRO all these lands were prone to encroachment and land grabbing. UCRT began to explore the CCRO in 2011 and the first group which benefited was the Hunter Gatherers, Hadzabe, in Mbulu, Yaeda Valley. UCRT is the first organization to explore the CCRO for groups for protecting land rights of indigenous people and it is now trying to popularize CCRO by scaling it up to other areas in the landscape. Since 2011 UCRT has now protected grazing areas nearly 1 Million Hectares of Land through CCRO and Certificate of Village Lands.

In Kyrgyzstan there are 9 million hectares of pastures of various categories. The fee for the use of pastures is carried out by pasture committees, which are included in the associations of pasture users operating in each village. If earlier, for the use of pasture for shepherds, a rent was established, now the amount of the collection is determined from the livestock and the species of animals. Means collected by pasture user associations are directed to rehabilitation of the pasture infrastructure - construction and restoration of water holes, cattle roads, bridges.

In 2016, Dodoth Agro-pastoralist Development Organization partnered with Mercy Corp / USAID to broker a peace building programme in the Cattle landscape border of Uganda and Kenya.  DADO is a local based National NGO working on areas of peace building, Agriculture and Animal health, Land governance and Research. 

During that phase, some of the visible planning outcomes is block grazing plans in which both Turkana and Dodoth Pastoralists agreed on some issues like who should water first and where?, Who should graze where and when should which group graze in a certain point of the rangeland. Who should settle where and at which season. So this kind of understanding by use of people to people based approach. Involving people/ pastoralists to plan, Dialogue and agree on there own terms and conditions. 

In Uganda, most of the land/ rangelands rehabilitation programmes have ideally been implemented by Government under its line ministries like Agriculture, Land, Environment etc. and so in most cases it is really very difficult to monitor and evaluate the success of some of the programmes, and more so the "Rangelands Management and Pastoralism policy is still under under draft"

@Akwii Esther, Has already mentioned some of the existing policy guidelines which are really smart but, lack of policy implementation in Uganda is the major challenge. However, governments keeps looking at its own side of Authority to implement the actions. 

Example; Natural Resource Sharing Agreement of Loyoro and Morutit Resolution.

Uganda’s Land Act recognizes community land under customary tenure and the National Land Policy 2013, contains a policy statement that the land rights of pastoralist communities will be guaranteed and protected by the State and a number of strategies for implementing provided therein.

The National Land Policy Implementation Action Plan 2015 – 2019, in the prioritized actions for implementation (Year 1 – 3) under legal and regulatory reforms states that Government would ''review and amend as necessary the laws governing land and resource access and tenure rights of pastoralist communities.”

However, as it has been highlighted in the discussions above, policy implementation remains a big challenge.

Any good positive practical examples of community land being secured for pastoralists?

Formation of communal land associations in some districts of Karamoja as provided for in the Uganda Land Act. However such initiatives are mostly conducted by civil society and in Karamoja, and not the rest of the pastoralist/cattle corridor districts of Uganda.

Also, dialogue promoting tenure security for pastoralists is being facilitated by civil society through multi-stakeholder forums like “Interest groups on land’’ facilitated by GIZ in Karamoja to bridge the knowledge gap on traditional vs. formal land management systems; and the Northern Uganda Land Platform that meets quarterly to discuss land issues usually under themes including pastoral land rights.

In Central Asian region there are following some good practice examples and lessons learned for making rangelands more secure:

1.- Community based co-management of pasture land and other natural resources in Mongolia

Co-management of pasture land were first introduced/tested in Mongolia since 2000. Amendment to the Mongolian Law on “Environmental Protection”, firstly approved by Parliament in 2005, which legally gave start to the community based co-management of rangelands in Mongolia, by bottom-up approach. By this law the government legally recognized the creation and registration of communities, as “nukhurlul”, and established a legal framework for allocation of certain natural resources to the communities.

At the end of 2016, at national level were registered more than 1200 communities, or community-based groups (nukhurluls) with a focus on co-management of pasture land, forests and biodiversity, encompassing about 17,500 households. Also currently organized 1362 Pasture User Groups (PUG) in Mongolia, involving about 63, 5 thousand herder’s families, was established for the co-management of pasture land and improving herder’s livelihood opportunities.

2.- The Information data base system , as "Electronic pasture committee" in Kyrgyzstan

The Information System "Electronic pasture committee" in Kyrgyzstan is a program that allows to manage pastures and contains an electronic map of the territory and to keep a record of pasture areas of 454 Pasture User Unions (PUUs) in the country, which was created according to the “law on Pastures” in Kyrgyzstan (2009). It also records the number of pasture users and livestock, accounting for vaccination, payment for livestock and issued pasture tickets. The system includes a plan for pasture use, which includes terms, routes, pasture areas with yield and capacity data, which are updated annually by the committee. It’s an innovative approach in pasture management, based on the local pasture user’s associations.

3.- Also in Central Asia interesting experiences on testing of sustainable management of pasture land with biodiversity conservation efforts in Kazakhstan, and integrated management of local pastoral ecosystems in Tajikistan.

1.- Systems and structures that support customary communal resources management within the context of statutory structures including administrative boundaries. They ensure;
• Secured key pastoralism pillars of production, governance and security (Investment livestock, Natural Resources (water, pastures) and Social Institutions (people). Therefore; when investments are made on these pillars, sustainable and resilient pastoralism is achieved and supported). The Garbatula Case is example.

2. Community driven resource planning and participatory Resources management
• Concepts towards proper rangelands resources use and management are arguably becoming secure under planed space. Planning from the perspective and participation of community resource use, investment, practices helps develop a common vision and ground for sustainable rangelands resources and secure tenure.  They are pockets of such frameworks including the group ranches which have a legal planned mind but actualized by practices of customary and the Kajiado group ranches are cases of reference. Even though it is done in small zoning approach in a way it has secured resources and built stronger customary institution and group cohesion to realize the concept of common proper and resources right of use, access and management.
• Conservancies on the other hand has different and similar conceptualizations they are either community private and or a mixture of both sometimes government (Public) the case of Olpajeta in Nanyuki. They have somewhat secured or made rangelands more secure to the extent that they are protected.  
• Land use planning the Tanzania Joint Village Land use planning; this is also another case of success.  

3. policy, plans, frameworks  

• Rangelands and its resources are cross boundaries and so are the users. In order to secure tenure and property rights of and for rangelands appropriate structures, systems and plans must be in place to facilitate. Such include policies, facilitative legal frameworks, institutions and rangelands resource sensitive investments. There are regional policies and guidelines in Africa under the AU including the Framework on pastoralism.
• In-country laws and policies like in Kenya the Community land law and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands policy. These are good examples of existing frameworks and a recognition whether by external push or sense of realizing the extent to which rangelands spaces, resources and inhabitants can influence policy and governance including the AU is less important for now. What is important is how to operationalize them having recognized their usefulness.
• An example is the Niger Rural Code also the blend between statutory laws and customary practices. Recognizing the need to focus more on the strength of customary systems and or institutions more and address the components that are undermining progress.  
• Global: the EU consensus document. Recognizing rangelands at the European parliament level.

4. Learning from the communities
• Space for sharing in a mix of formal and informal is step building broader understanding of the importance of rangelands and its resources amongst divers stakeholders. The Rangelands initiative has used this and it is out of which the programme was born. The more learning and cross-cultural, institutions and regions the more lessons are learned.  
5. Technology in securing rangelands and its resources (piloted application of the Social Tenure Domain Model)
• Defined the impacts of such projects in the following areas;
    * Production and productivity
    * Sustainable natural resource/rangelands management
    * Empowerment
    * Innovations
• The process facilitated social and spatial data which both government and development partners can use to better service delivery, resource allocation, planning and implementation of County Spatial Planning and CIDPs (County Integrated Development Plans)
• Generated opportunities for reflection on the policy and institutional arrangements

Dear participants, one of the main factors of rangeland conservation is the adoption of legal and regulatory acts by the State that regulates the full extent of management and use of rangelands. Thus, in 2009, the law "On pastures" was adopted in Kyrgyzstan. The rangelands are the property of the state, so the management and use authority is transferred to rural institutions "Associations of rangeland user" which have legal status. The executive body of the "Associations of rangeland users" is a pasture committee that regulates the entire rangeland use and management system in an orderly manner. The pasture committee establishes a fee for the use of rangelands and compiles the number of livestock from each rangeland user. The amount of fee for rangeland is used to improve rangelands and to solve the problems of rangeland users during the use of rangelands. When Pasture committees plan, they give degraded rangeland sites a recovery time of 2 to 3 years without grazing animals. A strict rotation of rangeland is carried out throughout seasons along the year. With the adoption of the law and the establishment of rangeland use institutions, there has been gradual improvement in the condition rangelands. Other Central Asian republics are now trying to adapt the law "On pastures" of the Kyrgyz Republic.


In Tanzania land is governed by various legislations but the principal laws are the Land Act and the Village Land Act, both of 1999. These  laws categorize land into village land, reserved land and general land. These laws provide for two land tenure systems namely  granted rights of occupancy, and customary right of occupancy (CCRO) for an individual or individuals, registered groups or any legal entity. All types of land is public land which is under the State (under the President as Trustee). Rangeland fall under village land in the control or ownership of Village Council as the trustee of the Village Assembly. For  pastoralists to secure and protect rangeland, they should first form a registered association, follow land use planning processes to secure rangeland and access CCROs or certificate of occupancy.  As Fiona pointed earlier, Sustainable Rangeland Managent Programme (SRMP) has tested and scalled up practicability of this process, with great successes.

In  Cameroon the land tenure laws, private land rights are derived from possession of a ‘land title.’  While all untitled, unregistered land is deemed to be to be ‘public land,’ which is held by the state on behalf of the public, or ‘national land’ that includes unoccupied land and land under customary tenure. Rangeland/ grazing lands in Cameroon are considered to be state property, under Ordinance No. 74–1 of 1974, and is therefore administered, like all other national lands, by two related structures: the Land Consultative Boards and Agro-Pastoral Commission (APC), both headed by the Divisional Officers. The APC can allocate grazing land to individuals or groups for grazing purposes,  on a temporary basis, and for the land is still considered as national land until the individuals or groups apply and obtain a land title making it then ‘private personal land.’  A grazer or group of grazers can acquire grazing land through concession by establishing a livestock production or development project (cattle ranch, plantation etc.) and then applying for a concession. When land is classified as ‘final concession’ land it ceases to be ‘national land’.

All the diferent good practices  above from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tanzania, Cameroon and elsewhere inform and remind us the condition and must to fulfil legal requiements to ensure we build capacity of pastoralits to mobilize themselves to legal associations as precondition toward the  process of securing and protecting rangeland  

On February 20, 2017, Kazakhstan adopted the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on pastures, which regulates public relations related to the rational use of pastures, and is aimed at improving the condition of pastures and their infrastructure, preventing pasture degradation processes. The law provides for the availability of pastures for individuals and legal entities; transparency in reporting and use of pastures and the participation of individuals and legal entities in the management and use of pastures. The Law prescribes the duties of: the authorized body - the Ministry of Agriculture; local executive bodies of the region, districts; akims, local governments and rangeland users. The law is simple, but in accordance with it, local government along with rangeland users should develop a pasture management plan and submit an annual report on the results of its implementation. To date, this is a major problem for small-scale livestock owners, and this problem can be solved by local non-governmental organizations. The role of local NGOs is very significant, both in explaining the provisions of the Law on Pastures, and in raising the awareness of rangeland users, including best practices for sustainable pasture management.

In recent years, a number of projects carried out in Kazakhstan have been aimed at solving problems for the improvement and rational use of pastures and reduction of the load on village pastures. Below are examples of some projects that have been carried out with the support of various donor organizations.

The purpose of the demonstration project "Zhanartu", initiated by the NGO "Foundation 'Farmer of Kazakhstan'" (Фонд «Фермер Казахстана») and implemented in 1998-2001 by the local community of the village of Zhangeldy with the financial support of the Small Grants Program (GEF / SGP), was the restoration of the biodiversity of the shrub and herb ecosystem on degraded lands around the village. As a result of the project activities, degradation of pastures was halted due to the implementation of activities in two main areas. The first of them is watering (restoration of wells) of remote (40-50 km) pastures and spring-summer-autumn grazing of a small part of livestock on them. The second - the creation of plantations forage alfalfa and the receipt of winter stocks of feed and, as a consequence, and the termination of winter grazing around the village. As a result of reducing the load of livestock around the village within 3 years, not only pastures, but also saxauls (Haloxylon ammodendron) were restored. At present, the project continues on the basis of self-financing.

In 2000, the NGO "Fund to Combat Desertification" («Фонд по борьбе с опустыниванием») with the support of Miliokontakt Oost-Europe carried out the project "Dissemination of new methods and acquisition of experience in creating a model for the sustainable use of degraded lands". 8 seminars were held in various areas of the Almaty region, and information on the methods of rangeland management was collected. The project has made a great contribution to raising the awareness of the local population about the processes and causes of land degradation, the aims and objectives of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and the correct methods of using pasture resources. Many farms upon the recommendations of the project began to create sowing mown pastures to increase the forage base of livestock and reduce the burden on village pastures.

The project "Degradation and rehabilitation of pastures in Central Asia using the example of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan" (2000-2003) was carried out jointly with the International Land Use Institute (Great Britain) and the Kazakh Institute of Forage Production and Pastures. The aim of the project was to identify the state of pastures from the methods of their use, the impact of pasture conditions on the yield of livestock products and the welfare of livestock owners. In Kazakhstan, the work was carried out for 3 years in Zhambyl and Almaty provinces. As a result of the project, the relationship between the yield of biomass, its feed quality and the increase in live weight, the quality of meat, and the shearing of the wool of grazing animals has been determined.

The project "Soil and Vegetation Rehabilitation for Sustainable Livestock and Veterinary Development" (2005) was funded through PAMS for 1 year. The participation of the project in the restoration of wells, the acquisition of yurts, pumps and generators enabled the members of the local community see that with certain equipment, it is possible to keep livestock in the remote pastures from the village. This made it possible to provide animals with a full grazing food and improve the commercial quality of livestock products. The structure of light gray soils was restored. The percentage of dust particles decreased from 83 to 56.

Short-term UNDP projects and the “umbrella” project GEF / SGP launched in 2006 helped restore the ecological potential of degraded pastures by ensuring optimal grazing loads (transferring livestock to new sites) and providing livestock with quality winter fodder. Choice of economic structures of the livestock sector was carried out in various natural and climatic zones and regions of Kazakhstan: Almaty (desert, semi-desert, dry steppe), Akmolinskaya (dry steppe), Semipalatinsk (semi-desert), Kyzylorda (desert). Using different approaches depending on the specific conditions of the state and use of pastures around populated areas, as well as the number of cattle grazing there, conditions have been created for remote pasture plots for normal living of people and providing animals with watering places.

The project "Restoration of traditional pasture use around the village of Korgalzhin" was implemented in 2007-2008. In the course of the project activities, a demonstration method for combating the desertification of the village pastures in the meadow-steppe zone of Kazakhstan was introduced by restoring one of the options for the traditional seasonal use of pastures-mobile grazing of members of the local community. A scheme was developed for rational grazing of livestock in remote pastures of the farm "Aishuak" and "Atamura" with the removal of a part of the cattle at a distance of 20 km from the village of Korgalzhin. The proposed technology and grant support for the GEF / SGP enabled members of the local community with a small number of livestock to organize the sharing of remote pastures with greater livestock. As a result of the project, the productivity of livestock raising was improved and conditions were created for restoring the pastures of the north-western part of the territory, which is adjoining to the village. A NGO was organized, whose members continue to use the implemented method in the post-project period.

The project "Implementation of optimal technologies for the creation of hayfields and pastures in degraded fallow lands in central Kazakhstan" was implemented in the village of Korgalzhin, Akmola region in 2009. Project goal: conservation of village pastures from degradation by combining methods of transhumance (summer / winter) and establishment of sown hayfields on degraded fallow lands in the conditions of the dry steppe zone of Central Kazakhstan.

The project "Revival of transhumant livestock and localization of pasture degradation in the dry steppe zone of Central Kazakhstan by the example of the village of Aktobek". The goal of the project is the revival of transhumance and the return of junk land to agricultural production to prevent pasture degradation and irrational use of fodder land using environmentally friendly technologies and alternative energy sources.

Projects "Restoration of desert degraded pastures of eastern Balkhash region" and "Adaptation of grazing livestock in the local Lepsy community to climate change" were implemented in the village of Lepsy, Almaty region in 2011. The village is located in a desert zone in the south of Kazakhstan. Up to 60% of the village is sand. The main objective of the project was to reduce the vulnerability of the local population to climate change and preserve pastures of sandy ecosystems. The possibility of decreasing the degradation of village pastures was demonstrated by sowing wheatgrass (Agropyron) on a degraded site, transferring a part of the animals to pasture grazing and applying the system of seasonal rotation of pastures, as well as restoration of water wells on the pastures.

The project "Development of new pasture areas of the desert zone of the Almaty region through their watering and seasonal use" is carried out in the village of Aydarly, Almaty region. Project goal: To reduce the burden on village pastures by restoring pasture water supply and developing new pasture areas. The Aydarly Village was chosen as a typical village located in a desert zone and included in the Alatau-Pribalkhash natural pasture complex. The local community has quite extensive pasture areas-summer grassland and herbage sites of the Shu-Ili mountains, spring and autumn-plain wormwood-ephemeral pastures between the Shu-Ili mountains and the Taukum sands and winter-forbs and shrubs in the sands of Sarytaukum. The main source of life for members of the local community of Aydarli Village is now pastoralism. The livestock of the local population grows uncontrollably from year to year. All livestock of the inhabitants of the village- more than 16 thousand MDC, 1200 cattle, 300 heads of horses before the project - grazed on summer watered pastures and on pastures around the village. The load on the pastures was much higher than the ecologically permissible load. Pastures of the Ministry of Defense, taking into account the lands acquired and leased by the rural population, make up 13564 hectares, of which 7-8 thousand hectares fall on summer pastures. The project restored 14 mine wells and watering holes for watering summer and winter pastures, aqueducts were purchased, and due to this, grazing areas with a higher productivity were expanded by 70,000 hectares.

The project "Adaptation to the growing climate aridisation through the use of a climatically sustainable pasture management scheme" was implemented in the village of Mukana Tulebayeva in the desert zone of the Southern Pribalkhash of the Almaty region. The project has introduced systems for sustainable management of forest resources through saksaul (Haloxylon) sowing and improved productivity of haymaking and limestone lands through the introduction of mineral fertilizers.

The project "Expansion of the fodder base by creating limestone and dry meadow hayfields" was implemented in the village of Zhumai, Akmola region (dry steppe zone). In recent years, community residents have given preference to livestock. However, the development of cattle breeding (cattle, sheep and horse breeding) is constrained by low productivity of fodder lands and their degradation. This problem has been solved by creating haymaking areas, sowing perennial grasses, re-profiling the arable land for cultivation of grain crops. In the course of the project activities, 4 dams were rebuilt and built. The first dam - a water mirror 2 km long and 100 m wide. Water, which accumulates due to the dam, is used to irrigate the garden, watering cattle, as well as to create a meadow area of ​​30 hectares. The second dam, 25 m long and 3 m high, provides 360 hectares of flooded meadows with water. The third dam, 300 m long and 1 m high in snowy winters, will allow the accumulation of water to create 300 hectares of meadow meadows. In the spring of 2007, seeds were purchased and planted on an area of ​​300 hectares. At the end of May 2008, the height of the gill reached a height of 45-50 cm in this field. In the spring of 2008, another 300 hectares of arable land were sown with arable land. Near the first dam are planted 150 seedlings: willow, apple and stone fruit trees. Increasing the number of livestock and improving the quality of livestock products, and as a result, improving the well-being of local residents - all these are real prerequisites for the sustainable development of the village. The implemented project is a good demonstration base of the technology of increasing feed production for farmers of the steppe zone of Kazakhstan.

The project "Autumn and early spring irrigation of fields and pastures, as an adaptation mechanism of rational use of water resources in Southern Kazakhstan" was implemented in the village. Sadu Shakirov of the Talas district of the Zhambyl region. The main objective of the project is the introduction of alternative methods of water and land resources management that allow to adapt to the changing climate. The method, which is implemented within the framework of the project, is the conduct of autumn-early spring water recharge irrigation lands along the canal. In fact, water, the demand for which is absent in the autumn, is allocated to pasture lands of members of the local community, where it imbues the soil, replenishes the lack of winter precipitation and increases the period of accumulation of moisture in the root-forming layer of the soil. As a result of the project, the productivity of pastures and livestock of the members of the Ministry of Defense has now been improved by foraging for the winter stall period.

Thus, all carried out and conducted projects show that in Kazakhstan, where, unlike in other regions of the world, there is a huge variety of types of pastures (more than 1000), rational use of pastures is possible only with seasonal migration of livestock. This is due to the fact that pasture ripeness of vegetation of various types of pastures occurs in different seasons.

It should be noted that monitoring of implemented projects after the completion of their financing showed that local communities continue to use developed technologies during the project activity.

In all projects aimed at improving and rational use of pastures, attention was paid to the legal side of the issue. At seminars, meetings and gatherings of local communities all these legal issues were reflected. Shepherds were explained the basis of land legislation, the conditions of the organization of farms, the rules for the proper organization of seasonal grazing.

Cessation of pasture degradation, their restoration and preservation of productive longevity is possible with ensuring people's access to remote village pastures, watering these pastures and creating conditions for the shepherds staying there for a long time. The legal basis of all this is prescribed in the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on pastures. The main direction -training users of grazing land to properly use the provisions of the Law.

Mongolia, with a land area of 1,564,000 km2 (2.3 times as big as the USA state of Texas and about 2.8 times as big as France) and with over 70% of the country considered grazing land, supports globally significant biodiversity, a large livestock population and pastoralists.  Sustainable management of Mongolia's rangelands is critical not only for livestock but for their water resources, minerals and biodiversity. Mongolia has a long and illustrious nomadic heritage.  In the last three decades, however, because of the lack of appropriate policies and market-based incentives to control livestock number, the livestock population has risen from 20 million head of animals in 1990 to 66 million today.  Livestock numbers now greatly exceed the capacity of rangelands to support them.  According to 2014 monitoring data, about 65 percent of the 1,450 rangeland monitoring sites in Mongolia have been altered compared to their ecological potential.  The large livestock population, overgrazing and rangeland degradation are growing concerns.  Although there are only about 160,000 herder households, each of these herder families supports a number of relatives living in urban areas.

There are an increasing number of good practice examples in organizing herders into pasture user groups to plan more sustainable livestock production and rangeland management and the development of rangeland use agreements that attempt to balance livestock numbers with rangeland carrying capacity.  Improvements in rural infrastructure in the way of roads and communication also now make pastoral areas much more accessible and the widespread proliferation of mobile phones provides herders with up-to-date market and weather information.  Market linkages are still weak, but growing domestic and international markets for meat could provide the incentives for herders to start to raise fewer, more productive animals.  Complementary programs to improve livestock breeds and animal husbandry practices, expand the use of winter hay and supplementary feed, and improve animal health (and control foot-and-mouth disease, which leads to ban on export of beef and mutton) could help herders adapt their production systems to take advantage of growing market opportunities.  

Livestock rearing had always been the backbone for livelihood for most of the Sudanese population especially in East Sudan. Butana plains in Gedarif State in Eastern Sudan constitute rangelands with open access to more than 6 million heads of livestock from more than 4 surrounding states. It had undergone devastating land degradation, and loss of most of its rangeland seed varieties, in addition to the encroachment of agricultural private schemes investment and cultivation north of the rangeland line. The most important new threat is mining activities, which had severe impact on rangelands and pastoralists as well.

Dear Participants,

The facilitation team is glad to see that the interest is alive! I'd like to finish with contributions to the third question of our debate, which leads to envision the way forward. How can we develop strong pathways for engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform? Please share you views on:

- What are the key pathways to securing rangelands for local rangeland users at different levels?

- How can different stakeholders better connect, mobilise and influence in order to make rangelands more secure?

- How can working together add value to working individually? An example being the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.

- What are the key opportunities for working as a multi-stakeholder platform in order to make rangelands more secure?

Thanks again for your contributions!

Many of the ideas here have already been tried and tested. We are dealing with a stubborn problem that needs more emphatic approaches! In my opinion and based on local experience, they should include the following:

- A strongly empowered community, which is closely guided and continuosly supported, will be active and motivated to protect their sources of livelihood.

- Local governance forum where the community voices are fully and ably represented will put the violators in check.

- For the Karamoja case, registration and functionalization of the Communal Land Associations will present a forum that unites the cause of securing the rangelands.

- The policies in place need to be implemented just the way they are, given that they were well intentioned.

- The customary land tenure system is hardly being recognised. In the context, therefore, new mechanisms of protecting and securing these rangelands may have to be designed - one option being organizing the users into Associations.

- Sharing of the common property resources need to be streamlined, as this minimises conflict, espcially where both sides - pastoralists and government - claim territories which can be harmoniously shared.

- Create the physical presence on the ground of international observers to minimize abuse of the laws and policies common with African governments.

- Advocacy should be mantained and its enforcement closely supported. This is helpful where leaders are compromised or intimidated.

- In case of change of land use, rangeland users must get involved in the decision-making process. Emhasis should be made on how their participation contributes in securing the rangelands.

The rangeland users are knowledgeable and conscious of their traditional methods of protecting their rangelands. Global development dynamics are, however, not sympathetic to them. The players in development are instead taking advantage of them - their traditional management styles, and in many ways. The goverments at Central, Local and Lower local levels who essentially, are resposnsible for secure livelihoods, are instead doing to the contrary. The political class easily get diverted, and begin to take over expanses of land them selves. How, then, do we connect, mobilize and influence?

- A multi-stakeholder be formed at various levels, where progress is discussed, and any developments that contradict the spirit of pastoralism and rangelands security is resolved, with relevant action taken.

-It is true that most of the traditional values are being watered down by development, including traditional leaders easily getting compromised by interested parties on land. A forum be created and facilitated, which brings together these leaders periodically to discuss matters related to security of the rangelands.

- International observers be more involved, including funding activities that promote pastoralism and protect the rangelands.

- Declarations be made that pronounce commitments to securing the rangelands, which must be evaluated regularly to ensure abidance

- For Karamoja's case, mineral exploration need to be regularised, with commitments made in respect of the policies and procedures. In a study recently done, nearly one quarter (6879 sq. km) of their total land area (27700 sq. km) is covered by exclusive mining exploration licences and location licences. Another 20 sq. km. is covered by a mining lease to a cement factory. The communities only see "investors" streaming in without any notice. These lands mentioned are rangelends. Again, it will require the commitments of different holders to secure the rangelands.


NGOs, CSOs etc have a big role to play in creating platforms for stakeholders engagements.  They have the experience, expertise and patience to bring different rangeland users into a kind of symbiotic relationships.  Not all rangelands are under cultivation or grazing.  Stakeholders meaningful engagements can free some of these rangelands for other uses.  It has a potential to reduce conflicts and restiveness among rangeland competing interests. 


How can we develop strong pathways for engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform?

What are the key pathways to securing rangelands for local rangeland users at different levels?

At  governance level:

  • Laws that protect rangelands from encroachment due to private investment in term of agricultural schemes or gold mining activities through rangeland registration and provision of restricted access for limited time.
  • Transformation and improvement of land administration offices and improving capacities and capabilities of those institution.
  • Rangeland administration should work hard at all levels to improve and protect rangelands through different approaches such as registration of rangeland, conduct reseeding, fire lines , improved livestock corridor, demarcation of rangelands and pastures, use of GIS
  • Conflict resolution between farmers and pastoralist.
  • Enhance measures to recognize customary land tenure and enforce them within statutory regimes.
  • Attract funds through international organization and donors to support rangelands
  • Accelerate communication, collaboration on national, regional and international levels.
  • At community level:
  • Create awareness on the importance natural resource management.
  •  Encouragement of formation of local rangeland committees to deal with issues regarding rangeland management.
  • Open panels of discussion between authorities and local communities.

How can different stakeholders better connect, mobilise and influence in order to make rangelands more secure?

  • Formulation of stakeholders platforms at local, state and national level to discuss issues related to rangeland management.
  • Advocacy for collective work regarding rangeland management.
  •  Contribution to assessment, research on rangeland tenure security that involve all stakeholders.
  • More involvement of all partners involved on rangeland tenure at global level
  • Importance of involvement of women in all aspect related to rangeland in order to enhance gender equality .

How can working together add value to working individually? An example being the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.

As pastoralist, government officials. Private sector, international agencies and institutions come together discuss problems and constrains in addition to opportunities ahead  definitely will lead to improvement of lay out of road map and final outcome of better rangeland management and security due to multiple views, ideas, skills and experience, lesson learned, pitfalls.

I would like to react on the third series of questions related to the parthways for engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform.

I believe that a first thing to do is to assure a fluid communication and information sharing and access for all of those involved in the platform. With the Coalition of European Lobbies for Eastern African Pastoralism (CELEP) for instance, we rely on our google group of over 440 active users to define (at least partially) the content for our lobby and advocacy work. Of course, this does not mean that all of the shared information is reliable and can be used for lobby and advocacy purposes. That is why we also have Eastern African partners and European members on which we can count to verify if certain things are true or not. The communication tools that are used – google groups, website, etc. – are also sufficiently simple and easy to use which facilitates communication.

I also think that a platform can be more effective when lobby actions are better coordinated and planned and when similar actions are developed around the world at the same time, targeting different policy targets. European organisations for instance, can target EU development policies at given moments whilst at the same CSOs in EU aid recipient countries target their governments on the same subject. This is a particular example of how stakeholders can better connect to influence. This requires some sort of central coordination and a clear partnership between stakeholders. Insights on who is the legitimate actor to influence particular lobby targets should also be taken into account.

Finally, lobby platforms should always consider sustainability and avoid working on a project/programme basis. Long-term engagement of all stakeholders or at least few key-stakeholders is necessary; otherwise, each platform/initiative is doomed to fail. Different scenarios exist to diversify risks. For instance, different stakeholders can have different roles at different times resulting in different types of engagement. Informality can also be an asset in a sense that it makes platforms much more flexible.

Thank you very much Koen. Indeed, to me CELEP is a great example of a multi-stakeholder platform that is actually steered by its members and combines the political legitimacy of its CSO members with the technical capacity of its NGO and scholar members - and sometimes both capacities are in the same person! The multiple perspectives of East African and European members also add a lot of value, I think, as does a lot of voluntary work that keeps the platform alive with minimal funding yet open to sources of funding for additional activities.

I think this gives food for thought for those not-so-successful platforms.

How can we develop strong pathways for engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform?

From my experience of working on rangeland governance issues in East and West Africa effective multi-stakeholder engagement has to be politically legitimate and savvy, be framed in terms of of strong economic arguments that speak to national and sub-national government interests, and which reconciles, somehow, the multiple interests of the different stakeholders.  This requires a lot of “up-stream” investment in ensuring the stakeholder platform shares and communicates a common vision (identifying the members, understanding their specific interests and how they can be brought together, etc.), is seen by those whom the platform wants to engage with as legitimate actors (ensuring members of the platform are representative of the constituents they claim to represent – this can be a major challenge for pastoral civil society in particular), in identifying the political and technical opportunities of effective engagement and developing the capacities of the platform to exploit them, particularly the “easy wins”. 

Developing a common vision and position to communicate in support of the rangelands, is in many respects the starting point for an effective multi-stakeholder platform seeking to make the rangelands more secure. And here, a major challenge to address is that of  “dismantling” the highly persistent narrative  of ‘resource scarcity and degradation’ of the rangelands, that has and continues to shape inappropriate policy in the rangelands.  This narrative broadly goes like this: the highly variable, unpredictable and scattered rainfall in drylands leads to scarce, fragile and poor quality resources. This results in low productivity, compelling local people to over-graze or over-farm their land, thereby exacerbating scarcity and degradation, further reducing productivity and inducing desertification, conflict and migration.  Land and the resources it supports held as common property exacerbates the situation.  Climate change is now seen as an additional exacerbator.  The “solution”, as promoted by policy for nearly 100 years, is to eliminate variability, a constituent feature of the drylands, and introduce “order” through uniformity and stability. In the pastoral context this has translated into a “modernisation” agenda including the suppression of livestock mobility in favour of sedentarisation, centralised control of stocking rates and grazing, enclosure, fencing and privatisation of the commons, replacing the rich biodiversity of local breeds with a few imported breeds, etc.

These views are widely held, even by many who advocate in support of pastoralists and the protection of the rangelands!   If we are to develop stronger pathways for engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform, members of the platform have to have a shared vision that sees variability as a central asset, and not a constraint, within the rangelands.  That uses existing knowledge, while commissioning new research, to demonstrate greater productivity in the rangelands under systems that embrace and harness variability (pastoralism) that those that seek stability and uniformity (ranching).   

How can we develop strong pathways for engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform?

a. What are the key pathways to securing rangelands for local rangeland users at different levels?

  • Increasing the role of rangeland users in decision making processes through institutionalizing traditional methods of rangeland management; integration of customary institutions into government structures; including rangeland users in government decision-making processes; and supporting the development of cooperatives for rangeland management.
  • Through rangeland co-management that encourages the participation of local communities, power sharing between stakeholders and institutions, and the development of more appropriate mechanisms for managing resources.
  • Customary institutions should be legally recognized with responsibilities and ability to enforce by-laws.
  • Increasing investments and interventions to improve the productivity of the rangelands for the local rangeland user.
  • Participatory rangeland management between the community and local governments, and development of by-laws.
  • Implementing existing policies and laws at the local level favorable to the rangeland users.
  • Community development planning as a way of management of rangeland resources needs to be embedded within development strategies and local community planning processes.
  • Participatory and negotiated territorial development to improve trust among social actors, strengthening social cohesion and promoting systemic territorial development through building credibility between public and private actors.

b. How can different stakeholders better connect, mobilize and influence in order to make rangelands more secure?

  • Establishment of national and regional or sub-regional networks to improve linkages between CSO’s, central & local governments, and the local communities.
  • Documentation of evidence from research, experiences, and studies on the value of pastoralism.
  • Advocacy targeting decision makers at the central and local level.

c. How can working together add value to working individually? An example being the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.

  • Brings together a diverse range of people/organizations with various degrees of expertise which strengthens any network/initiative.
  • Facilitates the exchange of information, skills, and experience.
  • Creates opportunities for collaboration.
  • Reduces duplication of efforts and resources; encouraging complementarity.
  • Working together lends credibility and legitimacy to activities/campaigns.
  • Fills knowledge gaps as a result of the large pool of human resource from the organizations or individuals in the network.
  • Read more here 

Pastoralism is slowly gaining visibility in the agenda of international development sector in comparison to what it was ten years ago. But if we look at India or even South Asia as a whole pastoralism is not on the agenda of the Govt, donors and funders. Possibly there are over a hundred million pastoralists in India contributing substantially to the country’s GDP but there is no single policy that supports pastoralism. 

A Multi stakeholder platforms biggest opportunity is to bring together pastoralists, policy makers, Govt , researchers, practitioners, donors, corporates, for effective collaborations and holistic interventions. Each of these actors need to be on equal footing for the partnership to work. In India there are a few NGOs who represent pastoralists but there is no collective of Pastoralist themselves at national or sub national level, which i think is a huge gap and needs to be addressed to develop a stronger pathway for a multi stakeholder platform. 

Each of the partners also have a specific role in strengthening pastoralism as a production system. But to have better understanding of the roles we need latest Information and data on current statistics and status of pastoralists,  changing management practices, impact of changing land tentures, climate change adaptations, contributions of Pastoralist to Indian economy and environment, and so on. In short we need reliable research to demonstrate the business case for supporting pastoralism as a production system. We need specific research from India but we also need to share success stories from other countries to influence govt and donors. This platform can play an important role in this respect. 

My biggest hope is that in next few years pastoralism becomes a part of agenda for all relevant actors in India and Indian sub continent. 

Monika and I have actually reviewed [1] the role played for pastoralist representation, which may be an useful items for this discussion's readers.

Marco Bassi also published[2] a complementary review of the process of pastoralist representation at the global level.

[1] Manzano, P.; Agarwal, M. (2015) Pastoralist Participation and Networking in Policy dialogue: Dimensions and Challenges. Perspectives 18, 1-16.

[2] Bassi, M. (2017) Pastoralists are Peoples: Key issues in Advocacy and the Emergence of Pastoralists' Rights. Nomadic Peoples 21, 4-33.

In West Africa literacy level in very low.  To talk about internet and it's access among pastoralists is not an issue.  What other platforms can we propose to fill this gap. 

Dear Jaoji,

my impression from Eastern Africa is the contrary. The access to Facebook and other apps is surprisingly high even in remote areas with deficient mobile phone network. Is this not a changing reality among West African pastoralists? Are young people not massively increasing the connection rate? I've always had the impression that we are facing the best possible opportunity for good networking.

Thank you Pablo,

Yes,  info and data is always lacking for pastoralists/rangelands. All data in many cases hold by the governments, institutions, but marginalized herders can’t access to the data and info timely.  

So , at national and local level for the dissemination of information can be better to  use mobile phones, as well as FB, regular meetings, herder to herder visits, bulletins, newspapers and other tools too.

Currently, from our small experiences , we are in JASIL using ICT, mobile phones,  to disseminating weather forecast data to the herders, in cooperation with RIMES ( and our national and local partners.  Mongolian herders are moving from season to season, always dependent on the weather. Their livelihoods depend on the sound management of livestock and the natural resources that sustain their animals. Early warning information to the herder’s mobile phone in the form of Weather Forecast Data, WFD,  by their specific seasonal location can assist herders to make better informed and less risk prone decisions concerning their everyday livelihoods. With the WFD  on their specific camp sites,   herders in our  sites  think that "they are now more secure to use pasture and herding".  The  group messages by mobile phone also  can used for day to day info on markets and others purposes too.   

Also  for  regional and international exchange of info, from our practice within  Rangelands Initiative,  we use  e-mail listserve groups, Skype, FB, exchange meetings, learning filed visits, bulletins, online meetings/trainings  and web sites.  But,  of course,  there are many other opportunities.

Yes there is Much improvement in the use of GSM and text messaging but beyond this there is not much.  The facebook and other platforms are used in cities by the elites. Thank you. 

The introduction of mobile phones is causing a real revolution in mobile societies such as pastoralists. Some academic studies are starting to be published but unfortunately there has been to date no initiative to gather pastoralist knowledge and innovations on this so that other pastoralist groups can learn from each other. An effort to reach funding may give the possibility to conduct such an activity, which would translate into an improvement of pastoralist livelihood conditions. Including, of course, an improvement in land rights.

How can we develop strong pathways of engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform?

One can not imagine panacea proposals in collective approaches to positioning and advocacy; the value and scope of processes of this kind depend on the commitments and capacity of the platforms to articulate the different perspectives of each other. Here, in the field of securing rangelands, the discourse may grow weary if it is not fed with arguments legitimately brought by the key actors concerned in the first place who are pastoralists, other users... In most contexts, these actors leave the field to others (international NGOs, former civil servants, research actors ...); I want to mention here the difficulties of setting up a collective action for livestock keepers / pastoralists scattered over vast areas, with a limited framework for certain technical areas of livestock farming. The place in the local, national and international platforms of livestock breeders with a clear professional identity is important.

Also, it would be interesting to build innovative advocacy. The over-used ecological argument put forward for decades has failed to convince of the utility of extensive land use. Stakeholders interested and concerned by this debate (research, development, professionals) should think about other arguments of the economic and social type to provide answers to major contemporary issues such as population growth, the satisfaction of food needs constantly growing while ensuring sustainability. If today the conquest towards rangelands intensifies it is because they are regarded as unused expanses which it is necessary to re-value.

What are the key pathways to securing rangelands for local rangeland users at different levels?

* The recognition of inalienable rights on specific lands: Depending on the context, like that of some Sahelian countries, pastoralists have ties of attachment with land they have been exploiting for millennia without having explicit rights over the land. exploitation or duties on the preservation of the resources therein. Legislation is trying but there is no land policy to secure the rangelands definitively. The classification as a pastoral or forestry reserve is insufficient because it often constitutes an opening when the need is justified to decommission for private operators, to decommission to bring water to allow irrigation, or to decommission for mining operations, etc. These legislations must be national, but harmonized at the scale of larger regional communities (eg West Africa, or Sahel, ...)

* The construction of concerted rules at the local level and their institutionalization: at localized levels such as those of local authorities, it is important, in case of non-existence of explicit rules securing the interests of each stakeholder, that land users are accompanied in the construction of agreed rules. For the social agreements are much more durable than the ones imposed from outside and which do not adapt to the peculiarities of all contexts. Also, these conventions between communities could be institutionalized by the integration and the mobilization of the organizations of breeders in the arenas of negotiation.

* Secure access rights in seasonal rangelands: In many contexts, the rangelands are seasonal either for climatic reasons or for reasons of competition with other activities. These lands are rich in resources

How can the various stakeholders better connect, mobilize and influence in order to make rangelands more secure?

Promote networking on concrete actions: information sharing, capacity building

How can working together add value to working individually? An example being the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.

By comparison, the mobilization platforms for the preservation of family farming in the field of vegetable crops show, by the strength of their commitment, on various scales (country, region, continent, world) that the force can make law.

What are the key opportunities for working as a multi-stakeholder platform in order to make rangelands more secure?

Integration of ongoing initiatives:

* On a global scale like the decade of family farming inscribed by the united nations conference in 2018

* At the continental level, the G5 Sahel initiative, although interested in safety, the institutional actors (FAO for example) work to articulate these interventions to other so-called developments.

Dear Astou,

I have found particularly sharp that you have mentioned how environmental arguments, even if widespread, have failed to achieve change. I believe they haven't in the Sahel, but e.g. in Europe they have been rather determinant in changing the optics on pastoralism, and the general negative perception in spite of positive arguments, as Ced Hesse has mentioned, prevails. Still, I believe you are totally right in highlighting the issue as well as the need for innovative advocacy: in the best of cases, pastoralism is perceived as a sustainable yet primitive and back-laid activity whose spaces need to be filled with something else. Changing this discourse through economic and social arguments, as you propose, becomes fundamental, especially in a context of population growth and higher demand for higher quality foods. Producers' networks with a clear professional identity, rather that the charity flavour that has become so usual, are as you say part of that change.

If anyone is interested, I recently compiled a report for advocacy on the environmental, social, economic and cultural advantages of mobile pastoralism here:

What is a multi-stakeholder platform in the field of pastoralism?

* It is a mechanism through which information can be developed, shared and used among pastoralists. Its overall objective is to enhance the capacity of pastoralists and their organizations to improve their livelihoods; strengthen their networks and outreach; and as a result influence policy.

* It supports pastoralists wishing to target their issues, enlarge their participation and enhance their capacity to engage in global, regional and/or national policy debates that affect their lives.

Why a platform of pastoralists?

* Often marginalized due to their unique cultural particularities, nomadic life, transnational status and mobility, pastoralists have been overshadowed by more dominant better organized groups such as small crop farmers. Their remoteness and often trans-boundary livelihoods have made it challenging to access services and engage in decision-making. Their self-sufficiency, mobility and different culture make them a unique constituency that often does not engage in dialogue with policymakers.

* Most pastoralists, and many of those who make policy decisions at the local level, have extremely weak access to information, especially in electronic formats. Better policies for pastoralism can flow from more accessible, better-presented information. The information dissemination gap needs to be filled.

* As a result of this marginalization, pastoral rangelands are decreasing from: 1) exclusive conservation policies on pastoral rangelands that are also the natural habitat for wildlife, flora and fauna; and 2) growing populations that create competition over natural resources and encroachment of arable farming on potential grazing lands. Pastoral land is being acquired by state allocation and also by agro-industrial companies. Agricultural expansion is increasingly cutting into pastoral land and cultivators extract the water that feeds pastoral wells. Pastoralists’ livelihoods and production are constrained by national policies seeking to settle pastoral communities and turn them into 'modern’ livestock keepers. In addition, pastoralists are also victims of war and famine; additional factors that displace and impoverish pastoralists, i.e. their herds become targets for hungry soldiers.

What key opportunities are there to work as a platform to further secure rangelands?

* Support activities such as training and capacity development. Strengthening the skills of pastoralists to articulate the economic, ecological and social benefits of their way of life is a key element for pointing out the two-way relationship between pastoralists and rangelands – that is the importance of rangelands for herders’ livelihoods and the environmental services provided by those herders.

* Foster partnership between pastoralists, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations and the private sector. Strengthening partnerships with pastoralist organizations across regions establish the needed networks for additional learning exchanges and knowledge sharing, mainly on the importance of rangelands and on good governance practices to manage them.

* Support regional workshops and community dialogues, as viable communication models to raise awareness. This helps policy makers understand the importance and benefits of pastoralism and pastoralists’ role as food producers and custodians of the environment.

* Raise awareness and build capacity on the Voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security (VGGT) and the technical guidelines for improving the governance of pastoral land.

Hi everyone, in the spirit of the principles contained in Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land (VGGTs), the ILC has invested in building an enabling environment to realise people-centred land governance by establishing and supporting multi-stakeholder platforms which develop and implement national strategies and global or regional thematic initiatives.

At national level, we have 3 ILC National Engagement Strategies (NES) with an important focus on rangelands (Kenya, Tanzania and Cameroon) and it is likely in the near future we will have two more (Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia). The ILC also supports two regional rangelands initiatives (Africa and Asia) and one global which consists in a core partnership within international members and partners. In the case of Latin America, as Gabriel already explained, we support a regional platform and strategy on Semi-dry lands which usually exchange experiences and information with the above mentioned platforms.

Inside and within our platforms we can observe diversity across civil society, government, multilateral agencies, academia, grassroots, private sector, and other stakeholders. This diversity offer an enabling environment to exchange and share experiences, to have a more coordinated and powerful joint advocacy, and to provoke a more robust dialogue around key land governance issues.

We are happy to see the coordinators and members of our different platforms on rangelands, as well as important ILC partners, sharing their experiences in this on-line discussion!

To learn more about our work on Rangelands:

David from ILC said well on how NES established and activated multistakeholder dialogues in various countries. I am from Tanzania, Tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF) who is part of these platforms.

In real, from ground level evidences, I can testify here that  NES facilitated establishemnt and activeness of variuos multi-stakeholder dialogues on People-Centred Land Governance at various hotspot areas with land challenges and issues. Through these multistakeholder dialogues, key land governance  issues are discussed from community levels, through District multistakeholders dialogues, to national level multistakeholder dialogues. Through these dialogues, key actors and players that have a stake in decision making process on land issues are involved and engaged from local to national level including community members, traditional leaders, local governement authorities,  leaders that represent various groups within localities, development partners, Civil Society organizations, government agencies including Conservation agencies that are sources of challenged land use conflicts in rangelands, technocrats from various Ministries and  Parliamentary Committee members and members of parliaments from hotspot areas with challenged land issues.

These multistakeholder dialogues are well designed and structured in way to ensure land issues and challenges within their mandate are discussed and agreed with tangible solutions for action and follow-up. Once some issues become more complicated to be handled by existing domestic legal frameworks, mandates and governance systems, the same lessons and issues are shared to feed existing UN mechanisms and regional dialogue at regional level like Word Bank Conference on Poverty, Conference of Land Policy in Africa, and Universal Periodic Review (UPR), etc 

This, among others, influences and shapes the best advocacy enagegements under various government regimes that call for transparency and accountability. 


ILC made nice documntations on how these Multstakeholders works well in Tanzania 

see below ILC recently publication:


The debate is getting on fine but today is the last day. 

The world bank and other donor agencies support to pastoralism in West Africa do not include capacity building in all forms.  We blame the pastoralist for not understanding or integrating enough so as to be accessible but who made any deliberate attempt to help them to do that.  Funding from such sources are usually wasted in buying big project cars, building air conditioned offices,  purchase of expensive laptop computers and paying hotel bills for so-called experts only to produce volumes of documents that are more or less useless.  

The current pastoralist-farmers conflicts in Nigeria can partly be blame on these agencies for their support to the marginalisation of pastoralism. They only support crops farming at the expense of livestock keeping  The Wetlands are put to all year round cultivation by farmers leaving no space for pastoralist during drought and sudden change climatic conditions.  

The broadcast media which pastoralist heavily depend on for information is highly biased and the news items are broadcast based on how much you pay. 

To assist pastoralist both national and international new approaches are urgently needed. Otherwise in less than 2 decades pastoralist will go extinct in West Africa.

The creation and strengthening of multilateral platforms for pasture management is a necessary and useful activity. First, the countries of Central Asia and Mongolia were originally livestock-breeding countries with significant areas of pastureland. Secondly, countries are located in an arid climate and have limited water resources. Thirdly, the countries have a great experience in pasture livestock breeding. All the above arguments speak about the need for cooperation between our countries in order to preserve pastures and exchange experience in sustainable management of pasture resources to protect them from degradation and improve the welfare of rangeland users.

As has been mentioned in responses to Question 1, large-scale land acquisitions impact rangelands. The Land Matrix Initiative,, was established with the aim of addressing the lack of comprehensive data on land acquisitions in the global south. The database indeed also captures data on acquisitions in rangelands. Land Matrix Initiative is piloting three local observatories in Africa, in Senegal, Cameroon (large rangelands) and Uganda. The initiative takes the global observatory, the Land Matrix, down to local level. Recognise need for country specific data and platforms on land adapted to local environments and conditions. The observatories are based on multi-stakeholder platforms, where the members of the platform determine the actions and activities of the observatory. The observatory becomes a tool which can be used by potential investors, government entities, and the wider international audience for research and analysis, advocacy, management, policy formulation, including on land in rangelands.

Thanks Angela for mentioning this, we know that investors acquiring rural land in the developing world is not new but what is worring is the increase in the frequency and scale of acquisitions since the mid-2000s, due to the increase in the demand of agricultural products, non renewable resources, and even conservation initiatives ( For the ILC, is important to be part of the Land Matrix partnership and would be great to see if in the near future the Observatory would throw interesting info on this.

About this of the regional platforms with multiple stakeholders, in the framework of the ILC of Latin America we have been working for 4 years in the construction of a network with internal members to the ILC but also external ones that allow us to gather critical institutional and organizational mass to have sufficient scale in practices, number of families, areas under management, that allow having influence at the level of regional policies in regional political processes such as MERCOSUR (Common Market of the Southern Cone), TRIFINIO (Development Strategy for Central America), REAF (FAMILY FARMING NETWORK) etc. It is so under the concept of Semiarids, which  for us is not only a climatic definition but a region with similar characteristics after its political, technical and economic problems, where the majority of peasants and indigenous communities of our countries live, that have a huge potential in natural resources, we have been finding our own synergies to elaborate a common project and work it in the whole continent from the Central American Dry Corridor passing through the Brazilian Northeast and the American Trinational Chaco.

For the development of this strategy, several things were fundamental, such as:

1) Points in common from the social, political, environmental and organizational that defines the Semiarids far beyond a theoretical climate deficion.

2) Few strategic points to work: Access to water, access to land, management of resources for indigenous communities and peasants in the region

3) A synergy and permanent search of political technical actions in local, national and regional areas together with official, intergovernmental and productive stakeholders

4) A concrete database of works, territorial development and contact with local indigenous and peasant organizations based on institutional trajectories and concrete results

It has not been nor will it be easy to go forward but we have made a lot of progress creating a Platform thatspans over 10 countries and 26 members. More information in Spanish, English and Portuguese at

Dear participants,

The facilitation team has decided to leave the discussion open until next Wednesday to allow time for any last minute contributions and responses to question raised. Thanks to all contributors!

1. What land-related challenges are rangelands and rangeland users facing ?

Rangelands or common lands in India contribute significantly to the food, fuel and water requirements of more than 350 million rural households in India and provide the foundation for the viability of farming systems. It is estimated that over the last fifty years these lands have declined by 31 to 55% resulting in environmental degradation, increasing conflicts over resource use and aggravating issues of food, fodder and water crisis for the rural poor. The decline and degradation of common lands stem from conventional mindsets that disregard and undermine the ability of local communities to collectively manage resources and reposes greater faith in ‘State’ and ‘Private’ property regimes. Such rhetoric has resulted in tenurial arrangements that neglect the collective tenurial rights of local communities. Lack of appreciation of the local institutional arrangements in many cases led to emergence of parallel sets of institutions from ‘outside’ that did not align with the local context and resulted in the collapse of governance mechanisms. Commons and community ownership generally do not feature in the official vocabulary of land use. Common lands are most often seen as ‘wastelands’ that are to be diverted for other ‘productive’ uses such as biofuel cultivation, corporate contract farming and industrial zone. The economic value of ecological resources or collective action is discounted in promoting economic growth.

2. What are some good practice examples, experiences and lessons learned of making rangelands more secure?

Enabling legislations such as the Forest Rights Act and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and national programmes such as Green India Mission, Watershed Development Programmes, and National Action Plan on Climate Change provide an opportunity for reviving the functioning of Commons at biophysical level while facilitating decentralization of decision making to local self-governing units. While institutional solutions proposed under policies and programmes towards decentralization are a step ahead in recognizing rights of local communities to use and manage their resources, neglect of local institutional arrangements and substitution with inferior arrangements could lead to the collapse of existing governance mechanisms and reinforcement of power dynamics.

On the other hand, facilitating local communities in defining resource and user boundaries by building on customary patterns of use and access, assisting them in formulating local rules and regulations to improve democratic character of their functioning, ensuring spaces for the poor, and engaging with the Government and other actors to create an enabling environment and improve programmatic investments could help in strengthening processes of making these lands more secure. Further, using technology to create a shared understanding of the local ecological thresholds amongst the primary stakeholders, and improving access to information for a more nuanced understanding of local social-ecological contexts can enhance land use planning and decision making.

3. How can we develop strong pathways for engagement as a multi-stakeholder platform?

It is important to appreciate that natural boundaries transgress the administrative boundaries and efforts of making rangelands more secure cannot succeed if it is done at just one level. Land governance involves different players – from a poor livestock keeper in a village to other stakeholders in the same village and other villages sharing the resource, to the local administrative officers, to the State and Central Governments, to practitioners and academicians. All of these actors play a wide array of roles in influencing the resource condition. It is important to map and understand the roles of each of the actors influencing land use better and to explore avenues to bring these diverse players on a common platform at meso-levels. Multi-stakeholder platforms need to be designed in ways that facilitate constructive arrangements such that these help in addressing information and knowledge gaps and take better decisions for land governance.

The Rangelands Initiative Asia, as one of CBI of  International Land Coalition, ILC, on Diverse Tenure Systems and initiated and implemented since 2016 by ILC members and its partners under the general   framework and structure of Global Rangelands Initiative. In Central Asian sub-region pastoral land use issues are in transition from centrally planned economy to a market oriented management, and pastoral agriculture has more social-economic and ecological values with evolving tenure systems and regulatory mechanisms. In the first year to the activities of Rangelands Initiative of Central Asia, CA, has involved more than 10 CSOs and NGO’s from Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, and the initiative supported by government institutions, ministries and agencies. Also several private companies, research institutions, Universities, as well local communities are also involved in its different activities. As Initiative we encourage participation to it non-member organizations, grassroots organisations, and women's organisations and social movements. Initiative members and partners involved to the scoping and mapping studies of rangeland and pastoralism in their countries, and identified best practices in the region on pasture management and outlined future strategic actions and participated in regional exchange events, working group meetings, and policy round tables, which strengthen their capacities. Experiences of different stakeholders shows that Rangelands very important for rural development, local peoples livelihood and cultural identity and lifestyle of local communities in CA countries , however due to anthropogenic and climatic conditions rangeland ecosystems being highly degraded, and almost 3/4 of territory of CA counties under the desertification and land degradation. After the transition to a market economy countries of CA practicing on different types of pasture land tenure systems, which is connected with general socio-economic and ecological changes in each country. The importance of community based co-management of pasture land and natural resources being recognized, but its realization also has own specifics and approaches in all countries. However stakeholder’s participation on national level activities on rangeland and its coordination with activities of ILC members and partners needs to develop and implement National Engagement Strategies, NES. Therefore thank you David for yours comments and support for the initiation and development of NES in some Central Asian countries. The Rangelands Initiative Asia has two parts: Central Asia Rangelands Initiative (focal point JASIL) and South Asia Rangelands Initiative (focal point MARAG) and it is single initiative in terms of diverse tenure systems on Rangelands in Asia. Therefore we also focus on the cross-regional exchange among member and partners of South and Central Asia on making secure rangelands and pastoralism.

Strategic engagement for better rangelands management

Many factors have driven focus on rangelands and informing the debate towards the need to secure rangelands tenure and resource rights; this is the positive side.  While this is happening, the other conversations are defined by rangelands as open space and opportunity for use, regardless of the implications to its health. This in a way has defined intervention pathways that have different ways contributed to strategic engagement.  As such, some of them are:

- Government oriented positive thinking; there are more efforts by governments at the national levels developing policies and plans that in some way recognizes resources within the rangelands such are the West Africa codes, the AU Policy on pastoralism, in-country plans, laws, policies and institutions.

- State and non-state actors partnership for joint action; increased governments’ recognition of partnerships with CSO and development partners and in this case, the Rangelands Initiative presents very concrete examples in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Cameroon and progressively West Africa.

- Thirdly is emerging grassroots oriented membership networks and coalitions; many global, regional and local networks are beginning to recognize the grassroots membership as having direct impact to promoting secure rangelands through awareness. Some are good others are questionable but the most important thing is the conversation for the sustainable rangelands management. The examples again are the group ranch systems in Kenya and the Wildlife Conservation association, conservancies. The west Africa Model of the Réseau Billital Maroobé (RBM) among others are examples of governance membership pathways for addressing rangelands. 

The International Land Coalition has two strategies that have in themselves developed strategic pathways at the national level and the regional level; these are already mentioned - the NES and CBIs - and have created an impetus and defined some thinking towards the rangelands debate, specifically the concept of the CBI and having rangelands as an area. The strategy has created both vertical strengths, by feeding ILC members through NES at the nation levels and engaging communities at the base. Feedback from these and lessons learnt are filtered and shape the global rangelands discourse in a way the forum such as this debate is structured and targeted, reaching wider audiences.

This has presented opportunities to connect with different players and influence positive thinking building partnerships and networks. Targeted global policy influencing forums, for instance the CELEP think tanks and its annual engagement forum and feedback to the EC and DEVCO, has in itself defined CELEP as another opportunity for policy influencing at the European Institutions.

Challenges faced by Rangeland users from pastoralists perspective

Pastoralism is a way of life for many communities across globe and over time it has evolved and supported environmental protection of rangeland landscapes and herders’ livelihoods. Moreover, as common pool resources, pasturelands whose management is based on rich and diverse traditions of indigenous knowledge of local communities, state regulations and tenure systems can contribute to the social and economic well-being of a country.

Commons are a traditional village resource (land, water, forests) managed by communities, that provides fuel, fodder, water, fruits, and grazing to most households in a village. More than 70 million hectares of land in Asia are under commons, and 48 to 75% of rural population depends on the commons in some ways or the other.[1]

Specifically, pastorals live with their livestock, and that is their main occupation, for this they are highly dependent on the commons for feeding their cattle. From ages, they used to have access and control over these commons, for grazing, fodder collection and migrating. Women used to have a decision maker role in the entire process. With the changing context, pastoralists all over the world are under severe distress and an alarming number are forced to withdraw from livestock keeping for a variety of reasons, including loss of common pastoral rangelands. In these situations women are the worst affected. Moreover, pastoralists have difficulties or are not able to use the commons to feed their cattle during drought and other hard climate events.

In the name of development, legal and illegal land acquisition, land grabbing, growing privatization and tremendous land speculation of common property is happening. These are the resources on which pastoralists’ livelihood and existence are dependent. With rapidly shrinking CPRs, pastoralists are being forced to change their livelihood patterns and practices. As a result of these rapid socio-cultural and socio-economic changes, the roles of women, including their role as primary economic actors, is shifting, for the worse. Government policy has thus far failed to address this, and in many cases policies, which are not suited to the livelihood practices and patterns of pastoralists, have served to aggravate the situation.

As a result, there have been tremendous changes in migratory routes and patterns of pastoralists. Today, pastoralists are increasingly bound by inter- and intra-state national borders. Their mobility is restricted, making them dependent on farmers, forests and the government, all these factors have contributed collectively to push pastorals out of pastoralism.

Pastoralists have become dependent on others for their livelihoods. As a result of the corporate grabbing of their CPRs, and also because of a general social ignorance about pastoralism, they have lost their social status and in turn, their self-esteem. Due to the specificity of their skills and lack of formal education, when pastoralists are forced to give up livestock rearing, they end up being wage labour at construction sites and in similar jobs, if they find jobs at all. We note a growing trend of pastoralist women taking jobs as housemaids in cities and smaller towns.

Challenges with Commons in India

Traditional rights of pastoralists not recognized and not registered-The traditional rights of pastorals over commons which were not recorded/registered, but have been exercised by them for centuries, instantly got unrecognized by government. This was in benefit of many other communities who were also dependent on the commons and influential people (due to shrinking of commons), so once very friendly and welcoming communities, now began resisting and protesting the pastorals rights over commons. The perceptions of local communities of land and resource tenure security within this context needs to be better understood, together with the implications of this on such as investment in sustainable land and resources management.

No clear institutional jurisdiction over the Commons – In India the jurisdiction over Commons differs, with pasture land vested with the Gram Panchayats(the decision making body of all the adult population of the village) and revenue wasteland under the custody of the Revenue Department. While decentralization of powers and functions to the Panchayat Raj (local self governance) may be one systemic answer, the Panchayats are not clearly mandated about their responsibilities under any commons policy.

No Policy on Commons and the Non Compliance of the Supreme Court Judgments– According to the FAO Voluntary Guideline on the Responsible Governance of the Tenure (VGGT), while state recognizes or allocates tenure rights, they should first identify all existing tenure rights and right holders, whether recorded or not. Indigenous peoples who could be affected should be included in the consultation process. This research will contribute to this documentation.

Similarly, VGGT states that states should ensure that women and men enjoy the same rights in the newly recognized tenure rights, and that those rights are reflected in records. However, in India, this still needs to be adopted in writing and spirit. We, don’t have a policy of commons yet, neither at national level nor at state level. This research will contribute to advocacy and lobbying by local CSOs in order to influence this process.

Rampant so called ‘Development Work’ leading to encroaching Commons and changed relations with other communities –Silica sand mining is rampant in the Vagad region of Gujarat (where the project is proposed to be undertaken). Thousands of acres of land is legally as well as illegally acquired and encroached by the government and the affluent communities and persons. This has compelled pastorals to sedentarise, many of them have began working as labourers in the mining firms. Similarly, for Solar Parks in Gujarat and Narmada Canal, etc., huge lands (mostly commons) is acquired, which has manifold effects on pastorals. First, they are forced to stop migration, migration routes are changed, livestock have reduced, livestock management has become expensive. Due to canal, agriculture pattern and location has shifted, so the farmers, who once invited pastorals with their livestock for weeding and manure, now, fire their weeds, so that pastorals don’t come. This research will consider the impacts of these changes on pastoralist rights to land and resources, and particularly those of pastoral women. It is anticipated that this will lead to better development outcomes in future.

Dinesh Rabari

MARAG, India

Good Practice – Campaign resulting in passing of Government Resolution and Creating Buzz around Rights on Commons

With rapid industrialisation and privatisation in Gujarat, the land, particularly, the commons land is being acquired in fast pace. This is affecting pastoralists, who are entirely dependent on the commons land for their livelihoods. Due to the pressure on commons, pastoralist are not able to sustain livestock, this is one of the major reasons why youths are not taking up it as a profession.

Historically, pastorals perceived that commons land is everyone’s land, therefore, they never claimed for its ownership. Thus, over the time, they were left with meagre land. According to Government of Gujarat, 78% of land in Gujarat is either grabbed or acquired by individual, corporations or government.

The campaign on motor-bike – ‘Wheels of Hope’, covered 1200 Kms, covering 9 districts and 25 blocks in 8 days. The campaign was able to establish that the right over commons is of those who are dependent on it. This proved to be a major realisation process. This is possible as the pastoral youths who are involved in livestock keeping were involved in the campaign.

The campaign was undertaken in those blocks where there was huge commons encroachment and acquisition. During the campaign, the issue was visiblised in media and pressure was built on the administration to resolve the issue.

A charter of demand was made on the common issues that was submitted in all the village, blocks and district headquarters, from where the rally passed. At the same time, applications were made in the concerned department for freeing the commons land, giving the land title (of vada, the open land for livestock) to the eligible pastorals.

To have optimum impact on the pastoral community, we engaged with pastorals with political and religious affiliation.

Proper homework was done, the preparation time was 4 months prior to the rally, which included extracting information about commons, pastorals, problems that pastorals are facing in keeping the livestock, meeting youth leaders, community leaders etc.

Intensive planning, inclusive and participatory process with the team helped us to develop right strategies for the campaign. The proper role division within the entire team – MARAG, its alliance, community, was very clear that helped in success of the campaign.

There was one core message, which was very clear throughout – ‘protecting cow and pasture land’ and there was one main slogan for the campaign – ‘community that is dependent on commons, has the right over it’. This outspread like fire in the entire state.

The entire campaign focused on community contribution, due to this the community owned the campaign and came forward to taking action to protect the commons.

Through the motor-bike rally, one thing was strongly established that commons is ours and we have to protect, preserve, manage and sustain it.

The governmenthas accepted that there is encroachment on grazing land, and has assured that the government will be with MARAG and pastoral alliance to free the commons.

The government has changed the government resolution, and has issues the notification that those people (with a preference to pastorals and women) who are using the land for livestock keeping for years, will receive the entitlement over that land. Thus, MARAG made 7000 applications.

MARAG team was called from non-campaign area (Rampara Sanctuary Area) where Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) was imposed. MARAG team helped to file the objection against it, as a result, stay is levied in the area against declaring it as ESZ.

Youths, who were not very keen on sustaining the traditional livelihood, got involved and owned the campaign.

In Saurashtra and Kutch villages, people began raising their voice against the encroachment.


  • Intensive Preparation and Planning: The focus should be on making the issue public and bringing it in public domain. This helps in ensuring community ownership. Engaging youth is important as they are the trend setters. This helps to have common vision in a team and likeminded people
  • Strong Presence in media, especially Social Media–This ensures in the visibility of the issue and making it public. For this a catchy name of the campaign, clear, simple and core message is crucial.
  • Engaging with the State, not in confrontational manner: Don’t confront the state, engage with them, as the issue requires state to intervene. Commons issue can’t be solved by engaging with just community, therefore, we need to link and connect with multiple stakeholders.
  • Good team effort: This is the key to successful campaign. Clear division of role, common vision, likeminded and committed team is a must.
  • Proper Follow-up: proper follow-up with the community, state and other stakeholders is significant to achieve the intended goal. These type of campaigns has a huge outreach, thus the expectation of people gets raised and many issues keep coming up, thus, it is important to have strategies to respond to the issues.
  • Sound knowledge of the issue and the context: This is mandatory as public rallies and interface with youth, community, other stakeholders and state poses huge challenge.There are chances that there are some emerging and burning issues with the community, thus proper preparation needs to address such issues, otherwise people get disassociated.
  • Robust roadmap and Strategies: Proper homework is needed with the robust strategies, which needs to be tailor-made for all the places, especially when it is face to face campaign and there is huge and diverse geographical area that needs to be covered.
  • Collective Leadership: Collective leadership, with a focus to promoting local leadership in the areas that the rally is touching. This is most important as it promotes their leadership, establishes their credibility and through them, proper follow up can be ensured.


Campaigns should have on-site teams and team at secretariat. The team should have people with diverse capacities such as good orator, technical expert specialised in media particularly social media, thematic person, local leaders having local information and taking care of logistics, people for crisis management. It should be noted that the front-line campaigners should be from the same community whose issue is being raised.

The IEC material should be in local language/dialect. This helps in connecting to people more easily. Engaging and sustaining youths till end is tricky, thus, the issue, process and tools should be designed in such a way that interests them. Big teams ensure larger and deeper impact, having representatives from local area.

Dinesh Rabari


Thank you for all your comments! We have learnt a lot during the last weeks. The facilitator team will share a report that summarizes the main lessons.

Have a nice end of the week!

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