Indigenous rangeland monitoring in the Horn of Africa
The briefing note “Indigenous rangelands monitoring: harnessing pastoralist knowledge in the Horn of Africa”, issued by WISP (World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism) in 2011, tries to bridge the gap between rangeland science and pastoralist rangeland management. The challenge is partly one of different knowledge systems and a failure of scientists and practitioners to communicate effectively with each other. Range scientists tend to monitor rangelands at relatively fine scales, whereas herders tend to operate at multiple scales. Range scientists recommend adjusting the stocking rates according to localised range conditions, whereas herders practise seasonal herd movements to routinely modify grazing pressure between landscapes and between seasons. These approaches have different monitoring systems based on different objectives. Examples are given of the indicators of pasture quality and the role of scouts among Orma pastoralists in Karamoja and the monitoring of rangeland degradation by the Orma and Afar (Ethiopia). It is recommended that rangeland development services should build on pastoral indigenous rangeland knowledge, strengthen pastoral rangeland management capacity through support to customary institutions, and use local knowledge to verify larger-scale data sets in rangeland monitoring.