Departmental Bulletin Paper Comment 1: Pastoral Localization of Humanitarian Aid: The Need to Re-Qualify the Pastoral Context

KRÄTLI, Saverio

53pp.141 - 146 , 2017-03 , The Research Committee for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
While over the last twenty-thirty years the scientific understanding of pastoralism has undergone a U-turn, the world of development and humanitarian intervention is still catching up with this transformation. Therefore, when discussing the localization of aid into the pastoral context it is crucial to first of all come to terms with the fact that a sound and coherent understanding of such a context cannot be taken for granted. This commentary starts by briefly recalling the salient elements of the transformation: the paradigm shift in Ecology in the 1970s, hinged on the way of understanding variability and leading to resilience theory; the way adaptive pastoralism works with environmental variability, rather than against it, by interfacing it with variability in the production system; and the importance, when working with pastoralism, of using a relational approach and focussing on processes, rather than focussing on ‘states’ and linearity of causes and effects. Two implications that seem particularly relevant to the challenge of localization are then discussed: the need to engage critically with the methodological legacy, and the need to recognize the web of forces criss-crossing the arena of pastoral development, and therefore affecting humanitarian aid with pastoralists: the legacy of narratives and mindsets, not only in the policy environment but also amongst scholars, technicians, practitioners and the donor community.

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