#Herdingthroughuncertainties – a PASTRES Instagram series

Over the past month we have been running a series of images around herding through uncertainties on our Instagram page. The series was inspired by a recent paper and blog post by PASTRES researcher Michele Nori, who looked at the evolving interface between pastoralism and uncertainty through a reflection on the PASTRES case studies from three different continents. These case studies are the focus of the PASTRES research programme and include southern Tunisia, Sardinia and Italy, Isiolo in northern Kenya, Kutch in India, Borana in Ethiopia and Amdo Tibet in China.

Our first series of images are from Tataouine in Southern Tunisia. In Tataouine, pastoralists positioned in the intensely dry crossroads between Maghreb, the Sahara and Europe run the risk of intense drought. In order to deal with uncertainty, pastoralists in this region have reintroduced the Khlata, a social contract allowing different individuals to pool livestock, land and labour.

In our second series of images, we look at Sardinian pastoralists who migrated to mainland Italy. It was during the mid-20th century that Sardinian pastoralists made the move to mainland Italy, a move which has helped revitalize the country’s inner territories. Alongside the pastoralists, Sarda sheep were introduced to the mainland, whose milk is used to make the world-famous Pecorino Romano cheese.

The third series of images from the series is from Kenya, looking at the Waso Borana pastoralists in Isiolo County. Waso Borana pastoralists have switched from cows to camels in order to combat encroachment from other farmers and herders. Switching from cows’ milk to camels’ milk has allowed pastoralists to take advantage of the increasing demand for the milk from camels. This has also led to new supply chains and the diversifying of local livelihoods, which Michele describes in the piece.

For the fourth series of images, we look at Gujarat in India. Major infrastructure and industrial projects in Kutch district have contaminated water availability, which, alongside the dryland ecology of the district, has created various uncertainties. As a result, Sindhi-Muslim Banni and Vagad Rabari pastoralists have begun undertaking new, and often extreme, mobility patterns to optimise their use of animal feed and avoid over-exploiting resources.

The penultimate set of images came from the fragmented Yabelo and Dire rangelands of Borana, Southern Ethiopia. Borana pastoralists now follow seasonal rainfall patterns and move their livestock through shared areas. Herders also increasingly use mobile phones, bank accounts, insurance and money transfers. As a direct result, money, information and produce are increasingly flowing between Borana and the larger regional and international area.

In the final set of images for the series, the lives of pastoralists among the high plateaus and alpine steppes of Amdo Tibet were highlighted. Herders must adapt and negotiate with agencies ranging from Tibetan monasteries, local authorities and financial services. Communities have responded by reorganising their communities, lands, relationships and agendas to retain mobility, autonomy and the flexible patterns that traditionally make up their livelihoods.


We hope that you enjoyed the insight into pastoralism across the three continents: to find out more, read Michele’s blogpost and working paper.

Over the next months we will be running a new series of images on the PASTRES Instagram account, this time looking at how the relationship between pastoralism and current debates about ecology, biodiversity and climate.

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