When pastoralism meets oil: learning from oil finds in Turkana, Kenya

Eastern Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Foreign capital has streamed into this region over the past ten to fifteen years – into large infrastructure programmes consisting of roads, railways, ports and pipelines, and into large resource developments ranging from geo-thermal in Kenya’s Rift Valley to windfarms in Kenya and neighbouring Ethiopia, and oil and gas projects in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. New motorways, shopping centres and office towers are sprouting in the region’s capital cities – a testament to the new wealth that is flowing in and being created.

Yet much of the large investment happens in rural areas – places distant from political and commercial centres, where the state let alone multi-national capital has rarely made itself felt. Many of these areas also have complex conflict legacies, and elaborate locally-specific ways of managing conflict and making peace. That is the genesis of a recent project on ‘Large-scale resource development at the rural margins’ – to understand what happens to governance and conflict in remote rural areas where large new developments are unfolding.

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Pastoralism under pressure in northern Kenya

Pastoralists  in Isiolo county in northern Kenya feel under siege, with their way of life under threat. Isiolo has been the home of the Waso Boran pastoralists for many decades, but attacks from neighbouring Somali herders, encroachments by agriculturalists from Meru, expansion of conservancies and planned road, pipeline and resort city mega-projects are affecting all pastoral livelihoods, creating many new risks and uncertainties. One elder warned us: “We were the majority in our area, but now we are becoming a minority. This means conflict is coming”.

In a scoping visit for the PASTRES fieldwork in Kenya, the PASTRES team talked to many people. Government officials in town, local experts and activists and pastoralists at water points and other meeting places. A number of themes emerged, each of which highlight different dimensions of uncertainty.

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The changing dynamics of Sardinian pastoralism: why an uncertainty lens is important

Most people’s image of Sardinia is based on the picture-postcard scenes of beaches and smart tourist resorts along the coast. But Sardinia also has an important livestock production sector, and pastoralism is central to the wider economy. Sardinia is most famous for its pecorino cheese, made from sheep’s milk. Most of us know the hard grating Pecorino Romano PDO cheese exported globally, but there are multiple other varieties too, and sheep, goat and cow’s milk production for cheese-making and meat offtake are all-important.

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Can pastoralists benefit from payments for ecosystem services?

By Linda Pappagallo

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes are gaining popularity as an environmental and development policy tool, linked to poverty reduction as well as enhancing ecosystem sustainability. Spurred by environmental motives, different financial and non-financial incentive schemes are designed, theoretically to create positive social and environmental impacts. For example, as part of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), payments for agri-environmental measures are offered.

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Institutional innovation for resource management on the Tibetan plateau, China

The PASTRES country lead for China, Gongbuzeren, has a fascinating new article out in Ecology and Society (open access), together with Lynn Huntsinger and Wenjun Li. It is based on extended fieldwork on the Tibetan plateau and explores how pastoral communities are responding to rapid economic and policy change.

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Designs on the range: corridors, grabs and extractions at the pastoral margins

By Jeremy Lind

The past ten years have seen the spread of large-scale investments in infrastructure, resources and land across pastoral areas of eastern Africa. In the past, these areas were insignificant to states in the region and large capital from beyond – at least compared to the region’s agrarian highlands and Indian Ocean coast. Yet, the recent rush to construct pipelines, roads, airports, wind farms, and plantations – to give a few examples – signals a new spatial politics that binds the pastoral margins ever closer to state power and global capital.

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IFAD and FAO commit to pastoral development

By Michele Nori and Linda Pappagallo

Pastoral development is witnessing a revival in recent years, and UN and other international agencies have not avoided the challenge of properly relocating pastoralism in their development agendas.

For example, the Rome based agencies, IFAD (the International Fund for Agricultural Development) and the FAO (the UN Food and Agriculture Organization) have a long history of engagement in pastoral development, and are revising their approach in pastoral areas. Two new documents have recently been released that show this commitment: the Joint Evaluation Synthesis of FAO’s and IFAD’s Engagement in Pastoral Development and the IFAD toolkit, Engaging with pastoralists – a holistic development approach.

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‘Playing with variability’: Michele Nori explains how we can learn global lessons from pastoralists

Dr Michele Nori helps lead the PASTRES project from a base at the European University Institute in Florence. With experience of research and development work in many pastoral areas, he reflects in this new video on his work in Somalia.

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The study of uncertainty is vital for the future of pastoralism in Sardinia, says Dr Antonello Franca

A new PASTRES video has just been released featuring Dr Antonello Franco, PASTRES lead for Sardinia from the Institute of Animal Production Systems in Mediterranean Environments in Sassari, Italy. It reflects on the importance of the project for the island of Sardinia.

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The PASTRES project ‘comes at the right time’, says China lead researcher, Dr Gongburezen

Dr Gongburezen is the lead researcher for PASTRES in China. Based at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu and working closely with Wenjun Li at Peking University, he will be coordinating PASTRES work in the pastoral areas of Qinghai and Sichuan.

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