Gender and remobilization of settled pastoral nomads: Lessons from a rangeland conservation project in Eastern Morocco
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For this article, Susanne Steinmann researches the environmental impact created by the shift of shepherding responsibilities from men to women in Eastern Morocco brought about by conservation policies established to prevent desertification of rangeland. Eastern Morocco was selected as the study area because like other areas in the region it has been experiencing deterioration of rangeland from nomadic settlement, has endured multi-year droughts, is home to the traditionally nomadic Beni Guil tribe and has been effected by the Moroccan Government's economic development and environmental conservation program aimed at re-mobilizing previously settled nomadic tribes. Data was gathered by Steinmann from twenty randomly chosen mobile Beni Guil families. The research indicates that the government-sponsored conservation policies intended to reverse the trend towards settling and return tribes to nomadism are forcing men to be absent from their homes for frequent trips to collect subsidized grain, which in turn causes women and children to be responsible for the shepherding of livestock. Women of the Beni Guil tribe, like in other tribes throughout the region, conform to cultural ideals about the seclusion of women and remain close to their tent sites. Staying close to the tent site while herding livestock causes severe degradation of vegetation in close proximity to the camp. The Moroccan Government has not fully taken into account the cultural implications of its conservation polices and the environmental impacts. The de-vegetation around the mobile camp sites demonstrates the need for greater analysis of the allocation of work based on gender and how it converges with livestock care and conservation policies at the local level.