Governance of rangelands – with case from northern Kenya

The 2017 review by Claire Bedelian of the book The governance of rangelands: collective action for sustainable pastoralism (2014, 300pp, edited by Pedro Herrera, Jonathan Davies & Pablo Manzano) includes an abstract of a chapter by Guyo Roba on “Strengthening communal governance of rangelands in Northern Kenya”:

“In Chapter 11, Roba gives an example of a restored community rangeland management approach in Garba Tula’s rangelands in northern Kenya. The initiative aimed to strengthen community institutions by legalising traditional governance systems and developing participatory tools for rangeland planning. Roba attributes success of the project to communities being actively and constantly engaged in the process, working with legitimate community organisations as local partners, and being well-timed to respond to the evolving devolution processes occurring in Kenya.

In most rangelands in the world, the dominant herbivores are in herds managed by mobile pastoralists, who usually manage the land communally, benefiting from the greater flexibility and seasonal resource access that common property regimes can offer. This creates a major challenge for governance and institutions. The book seeks to improve understanding of the importance of governance, how it can be strengthened and the underlying principles in order to prevent degradation of rangelands and ensure their sustainability. It describes the nature of governance at different levels – community, national and international – and the unique features of rangelands that demand collective action (issues of scale, ecological disequilibrium and seasonality). The book presents 12 case studies from Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe and North America.

“The final chapter gives a synthesis of lessons learnt on rebuilding pastoral governance from the preceding 11 chapters to provide guidance on the practical implementation of pastoral governance. The overarching message, that runs through the book, is that there is a need to strengthen pastoralist social fabric and overcome the weakening of traditional governance that are the primary causes of rangeland problems and conflict. Tenure security is key here, strengthening rights to land and resources, but not necessarily moving to outright ownership. Also essential is ensuring pastoralist groups have a lead role in collaborative arrangements and partnerships and are empowered to participate.”

Quotes in italics are from the review that appeared in the journal Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice in November 2017. It is a good reminder of the lessons learnt on pastoral governance.

The entire book, originally published in 2014 by Routledge/Earthscan and IUCN, is now available online as pdf. The chapter on Kenya is on pp 181–190. Separate files of the individual chapters will soon be made available.

Posted on 5 November 2017 in Pastoralism & Mobility, Pastoralism & Natural Resources, Pastoralism, Policy & Power