Peer-to-peer learning equips pastoralists to cope better with climate change
11 Apr 2019 - 21:15
By Alemayehu Zewdie, RiU Coordinator, Oxfam GB
Pastoralist communities in East Africa’s drylands face the combined challenges of shrinking pasture and the impacts of climate change. In Kenya’s Isiolo County, pastoralists have to deal with droughts, which decimate their cattle, and floods, making the need to adapt critical.
Through Participatory Scenario Analysis (PSA) workshops with local communities, ASSAR learned that people in Isiolo view pasture scarcity as a major constraint to their livelihoods. To equip pastoralists with skills to better deal with pasture scarcity, ASSAR facilitated a peer-to-peer learning (P2P) exchange. Pastoralists learned from others in the area about the traditional land management system, known as Dedha, and camel-rearing.
“We have learned a lot during the four days of tour. From what I have seen, we can also grow grass and store hay to save our livestock during droughts,” said one of the participants, Abdul Karim, from the Kulamawe community. “I plan to propose that the Dedha council of elders set aside some areas for fodder production and bulking to complement the drought pasture reserves that the community already has.” Karim was one of 21 people who took part in the learning exchange. There were seven people from each community where the PSA had been done (Kinna, Kulamawe and Kachiuru).
Learning new skills
The exchange promoted sharing of knowledge, skills, experiences and best practices among communities. It exposed participants to three core issues.
Day 1: Customary natural resource management
Participants learned about the customary institutions of natural resource management, known as Dedha in Borana. The Borana community in Isiolo county’s Kinna ward has revitalised this practice, which promotes zonation of grazing land into wet season, dry season and drought grazing areas. A council of elders (jars dedha) regulates use of these areas to ensure sustainable resource management. The council of elders shared their experiences, lessons learned, challenges and opportunities with participants from Kulamawe and Kachuru (themselves Boranas).
Day 2: Camel value chain
Participants learned about camel husbandry. An expert with the Kenya Camel Milk Association (KCA) gave a presentation on the increasing adoption of camels by communities that are not traditional camel keepers in the drylands. Participants also shared their experiences since some had already embraced camel rearing. A national representative for the KCA shared a camel husbandry manual with the participants.
“Most of us never knew that there are different breeds of camel, and that there are those that are specifically for milk and those kept for meat … to us a camel was a camel,” said Hassan from Kinna. “I have just talked to Khalif (the national representative of KCA) to help me identify a camel heifer because I believe we are also capable of doing what others have succeeded at.”
Day 3: Fodder Production and Preservation
The field visit to the fodder farm Bisil, in Kajiado County, was preceded by a presentation from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KARLO) on common grass species, their production and agronomic practices, as well as harvesting and marketing aspects. The participants had a chance to learn first-hand from a commercial fodder farmer about fodder production and preservation practices. The main learning was that individuals and groups who practice fodder production in the drylands not only do it to reserve pasture to sustain their herds during dry periods but also as a way of diversifying their sources of income by selling surplus hay and seeds.
The P2P learning was a great experience for all, including the organisers. Participants learned a lot through sharing knowledge, skills and experiences among themselves and experts. There are already some indications of attitude change and possible actions that may follow the P2P. As one participant, Nasibo, from Kinna put it: “Now we know a lot about camels, for those of us who have been meaning to start camel production, we now know where to go for advice. Growing fodder would be easy for those of us who are already involved in crop production. We can then comfortably feed the young and sick animals which cannot walk to distant pastures during droughts. I will start by trying these grass seeds I have obtained from Kajiado on my farm.”