Data on Pastoralist Populations | Pastoralism

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This paper is intended to initiate discussion about pastoralist data issues and arises out of two brief, consultancies for Oxfam, reviewing demographic, poverty and other data collection systems and procedures in Kenya and Tanzania. It is also informed by considerable experience over many years of working with pastoralist populations in Mali and Burkina Faso.
   1 Data on pastoralist populations: Discussion paper for ILRI workshop of pastoralist poverty Nairobi, June 27-28 Sara Randall, Department of Anthropology, UCL, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT May 23 2006     2 1. Introduction To address issues of pastoralist poverty it is essential to have data in which pastoralists are both represented and discernable. Although many small-scale academic studies consider pastoralist poverty in a nuanced and detailed manner, these studies and their tools are not really appropriate for national or sub-group poverty monitoring. In most cases they involve very detailed data collection, adapted to the local ecological, economic and cultural context and are neither generalisable to other groups nor feasible on a large scale. We must accept that some compromises are essential if National Statistics Offices are to collect data, which include pastoralists. Despite improved coverage, at present pastoralists and pastoralist issues are probably seriously underrepresented, misrepresented or absent from national data sets. Frequently used poverty indicators not only may not capture the essence of pastoralist poverty – but may also classify thriving, viable pastoralist communities as poor because of different values and practicalities. This paper is intended to initiate discussion about pastoralist data issues and arises out of two brief, consultancies for Oxfam, reviewing demographic, poverty and other data collection systems and procedures in Kenya and Tanzania. It is also informed by considerable experience over many years of working with pastoralist populations in Mali and Burkina Faso. 2. Issues of definition of pastoralist populations If demographic and other household based data are to be collected or collated systematically over time for pastoralists, it is essential that ‘pastoral populations’ are clearly defined and that these definitions are both explicit and consistently adhered to. If this is not done then shifting definitions may lead to changing numerators and denominators and hence to rates which cannot properly be interpreted as related to changing pastoral livelihoods or changing numbers of pastoralists. However several components of pastoral identity (outlined below) mean that such definitions (a) are difficult to agree upon between different interest groups and (b) may constrain possible analyses. 2.1 Economic definitions: Swift (1988) proposed that pastoralists be defined as households or populations where more than 50% household income / consumption is derived from livestock or livestock related activities, either as a result of sales of livestock products or of direct consumption, and agropastoralists as deriving 25-50% income / consumption from livestock produce.  Although this may be an excellent definition for conceptualisation, in terms of practical data collection or collation it poses various problems or dilemmas. 2.1.1 Routinely collected quantitative data and economic definitions of pastoralism: (a) household level data ã  Defining households as pastoralist using Swift’s criteria (or similar economic definitions) means that, over time, specific households may move in and out of pastoralism because of herd loss or temporary diversification into other economic opportunities. ã  In order to capture poverty among such ‘pastoralist’ households additional data are needed on overall and per capita livestock holdings since a household with few   3 livestock but no other economic activities may face acute hardship in terms of nutrition and welfare but retain over 50% household consumption derived from pastoralism. ã  Such a definition is very data demanding since detailed, accurate household budget data are required. Livestock holdings are difficult to assess in many pastoral populations for many reasons, including taboos against enumerating livestock precisely or because of shared rights in animals arising from allocation to wives for milking or through complex loan systems. Routinely collected data are unlikely to be available at this level. (b) community level data ã  If a community, rather than individual member households, is estimated to derive more than 50% income from pastoral produce this can circumvent the difficulties of specific households falling below the threshold over time. This may be a good way of assessing changing access to and dependence on pastoral produce but encounters the problem of defining community membership. Is a community to be defined along spatial, ethnic, kinship, economic or administrative lines? Is a migrant to Nairobi who is sending remittances a member of the pastoralist community? Is a migrant to Nairobi who would like to send remittances, but cannot find work, a member of the pastoralist community? (c) data defined by administrative units ã  If appropriate base line data are available on household consumption within an administrative / geographic unit, then that area may be defined as pastoral, agro-pastoral or non-pastoral according to Swift’s criteria. This approach encounters different problems. Administrative units for which data are routinely available (e.g. districts in Kenya) are large and often environmentally heterogeneous – containing some communities who consider themselves pastoralist and who fulfill the criteria above, and others who do not. Changes over time could be a function of changing pastoral opportunities, risks or natural hazards OR changes in the composition of the population, influenced by in-migration by non-pastoralists to cultivate, develop enterprises, or join the growing urban economy in that area. ã  Mobility adds extra complexity: should people be considered as members of an administrative area because they are administratively attached to it ( de jure ) or because they are located within that area at the time of data collection ( de facto )? De facto membership is often simplest, but seasonal changes in population size and composition because of transhumance need to be considered and understood. De facto  data can provide information on mobility out of the area but it will be unclear whether such mobility is associated with livestock production or migration for livelihood diversification. 2.2 Ethnic definitions of pastoralism  Some see pastoralism as an innate characteristic determined by attachment to a specific social group or ethnicity. Such a definition implies that civil servants or urban based salaried employees who srcinate from pastoral ethnic groups perceive themselves to be pastoralists, retain close contact with their pastoral roots, may invest in livestock to be herded by kin or contract herdsmen in their area of srcin.   4 2.2.1 Routinely collected quantitative data and ethnic definitions of pastoralism: ã  Close links with communities of srcin are likely to be very strong for first generation rural-urban migrants but will probably decrease over time for many second and third generation migrants. Individuals who no longer have close ties with their area of srcin, and who no longer speak their maternal language fluently, may continue to label themselves ethnically as being from that community. ã  Educated and / or wealthy migrants may invest considerable sums in their home areas and may be a pathway for channeling of government, NGO or private resources through networks and contacts. As such they should not be ignored in terms of welfare in the pastoral lands of srcin but it is problematic to use them as an indicator of pastoral welfare since not all will choose to invest back home. ã  Ethnic identity can be fluid and people may choose to adopt different ethnic identities for expediency or the reality of the lifestyle they live (e.g. Rendille & Samburu, Spencer 1976). Former pastoralists may choose to identify themselves by non-pastoralist ethnicities. ã  Migrants living away from pastoral zones are very diverse and are probably dominated by polar opposites in terms of economic well-being; educated migrants who leave pastoral areas to get employment (unavailable in remote pastoral zones) commensurate with their qualifications contrast with the destitute and those who have left pastoralism because of livestock loss or because migration to urban areas of a household member is perceived as the best way of household diversification under adverse conditions. Thus numbers of pastoralist ethnic groups living in urban areas would be impossible to interpret in terms of livelihoods and welfare. ã  People from ethnic groups not traditionally perceived to be pastoralists may have invested so heavily in livestock that the major part of their income is derived from pastoralism yet they might be excluded if ethnic definitions are used. 2.3 Definitions of pastoralists based on local research   A recent study by Comic Relief and others (Oxfam et al. 2005) using PRA exercises with diverse pastoralist communities throughout Kenya along with many key informant interviews identified three types of pastoralist ã  Nomadic extensive pastoralists with very little income diversification ã  Sedentary or semi-sedentary pastoralists with considerable income diversification and much less income from pastoralism ã  Destitute pastoralists The study identified the types of capital (social, economic etc) present in each group and their potential to develop these forms of capital. This classification is seriously limited by the integral association of mobility with production. It implies that a household cannot be solely pastoralist unless everyone is highly mobile – yet in ASAL different populations approach livestock mobility requirements in different ways: through mobility of parts of households, whole household mobility, splitting households, importing fodder, and, in some higher potential areas, sedentary animal husbandry. The above classification implies that diversification is not possible whilst remaining mobile, yet often some household members may remain mobile with livestock while other members move to urban areas either to work and send remittances or to be well placed to receive forms of aid. There are many problems in identifying people / households / communities within these categories since household diversification may mean that a specific household or a specific community has members who could be
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