Assessing the policy frame in pastoral areas of West Asia and North Africa (WANA)
The rangelands of West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region – which includes the Maghreb and Mashreq, Turkey and other countries of the Arabian Peninsula – are conducive to different patterns of pastoral resource management, due to the prevailing arid and mountainous conditions.
Camels in Tunisia. Photo: Linda Pappagallo
Environmental change in the region is quite intense, resulting from population growth, shifts in land use and climate dynamics, and is one of the main drivers of socio-economic and political transformation in the region.
In most WANA countries livestock rearing is a primary source of livelihood for a large segment of the population, and the governance of rangeland management and livestock trade are high priority issues for the national and regional political economy. Despite a fragmented and conflicting political setup that affects regional economic integration and the establishment of a common institutional framework, development trajectories regarding agriculture and food security have converged over time.
Throughout the region, there have been repeated attempts to convert herding communities into stable and controllable producers through their incorporation into state and market mechanisms. Patterns of herd management and livestock mobility have been profoundly reconfigured, and while the movement of animals is increasingly restricted as feed and water are brought to them, the mobility of rural dwellers has intensified, through intense migration flows that are contributing to major transformations in local societies.
Goats and sheep being trucked to Saudi Arabia for sale. Photo: Mathilde Gingembre
Over time, development approaches, institutional arrangements and market dynamics have proven inconsistent in addressing the long-term needs of rural producers and ecosystems. Particularly in the arid and remote pastoral regions, local livelihoods have significantly deteriorated in recent decades, and are now increasingly shaped by processes that take place outside the realm of livestock production and very often beyond regional boundaries. The reconfiguration of land, livestock and labour regimes has generated tensions and risks that have weakened the capacity of pastoralist communities to deal with evolving uncertainties.
The recent history of WANA drylands is one of strained economic development, stressed community networks and degraded ecosystems; the broader implications of the political and economic marginalisation of drylands have significant impacts for the entire WANA region and society.
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