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“You have nice grass—I’m coming”: Challenges of pastoral land governance in East Africa


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Presented by Lance Robinson at the 'Expérience tunisienne et de valorisation des acquis dans le domaine du développement de territoires pastoraux', in Zarzis, Tunisia, 27-29 March 2019

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“You have nice grass—I’m coming”: Challenges of pastoral land governance in East Africa

  1. 1. “You have nice grass—I’m coming”: Challenges of pastoral land governance in East Africa Lance W. Robinson Expérience tunisienne et de valorisation des acquis dans le domaine du développement de territoires pastoraux 27-29 March 2019 Zarzis, Tunisia
  2. 2. Garba Tula, Kenya ~350-500 mm. p.a. A reinvigorated traditional governance system
  3. 3. “You have nice grass—I’m coming” The challenge of tenure security & management rights • Without tenure security and management rights, little incentive to invest in management • Obvious solution? Create/strengthen commons. Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) • Commons theory (e.g. E. Ostrom) suggests 4 property types: o Private property o State property o Non-property o Open access
  4. 4. Design principles for effective governance of commons • Clearly defined territorial boundaries and social group boundaries • Collective choice arrangements for the social group to create its own rules • Graduated sanctions for infractions • Recognition from higher levels of community rights to organize • Etc. Ostrom 1990
  5. 5. New legal developments • Kenya: Community Land Act (2016) • Ethiopia: Communal land registration
  6. 6. Marsabit, Kenya ~150 – 350 mm. p.a. in the lowlands (~1400 mm in the mountains A mix of ethnic groups, diverse local governance systems
  7. 7. “It’s not ‘my land here and their land there’. We are within each other.” The challenge of understanding pastoralist flexibility • Most pastoralist systems put little emphasis on boundaries. • Almost all resources are “shared” with other groups. • The social group boundaries are also flexible and fluid. • These are all adaptations to extreme variability. • This creates a paradox.
  8. 8. The paradox of pastoral tenure Security of tenure Sense of ownership “If we sacrifice now will we be the ones to get the benefit?” Mobility Flexibility “Each year, the rain and pasture may be found in different places. We pastoralists don’t keep on animals on tiny farms.” ? Fernandez-Gimenez 2002
  9. 9. Kajiado, Kenya ~550 mm. p.a. “Group ranches” Subdivision/fragmentation
  10. 10. “I sold you the land but I didn’t sell you the grass” The right of access supersedes any right of ownership • The right of access is strong in pastoralist norms and cultures. • And in pastoralist institutions. • Mainstream thinking: “open access” is a lack of rules. • For many pastoralists: open access is the rule (Moritiz 2016).
  11. 11. Traditional pastoralist governance: a clue to overcoming the paradox? • Rights unbundled by timing and mode of use, and allocated to different governance mechanisms • Overlapping rights • Rights well-defined for some resources, hardly at all for others • Multi-level decision-making • Complex tenure mosaics do not function only through tenure: reliance on other governance mechanisms • Based on negotiation more than rules
  12. 12. Governance interventions to address the paradox • Promoting platforms and networks for deliberation and negotiation. • Addressing challenges with carrots more than sticks (incentives for sustainable practices) • Land use planning
  13. 13. Land use planning in pastoral settings
  14. 14. References DESIGN PRINCIPLES FOR GOVERNANCE OF COMMONS: Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. THE PARADOX: Fernández-Giménez, M. E. (2002). Spatial and Social Boundaries and the Paradox of Pastoral Land Tenure: A Case Study From Postsocialist Mongolia. Human Ecology, 30(1), 49–78. OPEN ACCESS REGIMES: Moritz, M. (2016). Open property regimes. International Journal of the Commons, 10(2), 688– 708.
  15. 15. Acknowledgement This work benefitted from funding from the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock led by the International Livestock Research Institute, and from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the European Commission through the “Taking Successes in Land Restoration to Scale” project.
  16. 16. CGIAR Research Program on Livestock The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock aims to increase the productivity and profitability of livestock agri-food systems in sustainable ways, making meat, milk and eggs more available and affordable across the developing world. This presentation is licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The program thanks all donors and organizations which globally support its work through their contributions to the CGIAR system