Must Nomads Settle? Some Notes Toward Policy on the Future of Pastoralism
Aronson, D. R.
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Pastoralists have been settling and uprooting continuously, but current development thinking regards nomads as opponents, rather than valuing the knowledge they have acquired from generations of adaptation. Similarly, communication does not flow the other way, and pastoralists are generally unaware of the directions of government development planning. There are six features of pastoral life which need to be understood: pastoralists are engaged in multi-resource economies; they move out of necessity rather than choice; economic decisions are made with a view to long term security; production aims to maximize the number of goals, not just economic goals; ownership and management of herds may be in different hands; pastoralists are vigilant to changes in their environment. Policy directed towards pastoral communities must do away with stereotypical images of nomadic herders; sedentarization is frequently unviable, for the reason that, if it were an appropriate response to the conditions in hand, the pastoralists would make it unaided. Policy recommendations regarding pastoralists can come from two angles; either they hope to destroy pastoralism as a means of livelihood, or they hope to enhance the lives of the pastoralist as legitimate citizens. Assuming the latter position, areas for development would be access to veterinary medicine and relations between pastoralists and other members of the population. It is a mistake to presume that the crux of the pastoralist system is the contribution it makes to the national economy; on the contrary, it is often only the surplus to subsistence needs which goes to market. Priorities for development lie in improving the standard of living for pastoralists and secondly, increasing the growth of the national economy to which they contribute. The decline of pastoralism is not inevitable from an environmental point of view, as enough rangeland exists to support large numbers of people and herds. -from Blench and Marriage Annotated Bibliography