Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative
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Mobile Pastoralism: How It Can Mitigate the Climate Change Menace

By Hillary Kitel.

Mobile pastoralism, also known as transhumance, is a seasonal movement of livestock between different pastures. It is a traditional practice that has been used for centuries by pastoralist communities around the world. It is a system that offers numerous benefits and plays a vital role in addressing climate change.

Here are some ways in which mobile pastoralism can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation:

  1. Sustainable Land Management:  Pastoralists rely on extensive grazing systems, allowing livestock to graze on large areas of land for shorter periods. This rotational grazing helps prevent overgrazing, promotes biodiversity, and allows vegetation to regenerate, enhancing the resilience of ecosystems in arid and semi-arid regions.


Pastoralism: Camels and Goats owned by a pokot herdsman at a watering Hole

  1. Carbon Sequestration: Pastoralist landscapes, with their diverse vegetation cover, can act as carbon sinks, absorbing and storing significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The careful management of grazing patterns and vegetation dynamics by mobile pastoralists can contribute to carbon sequestration, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


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  1. Resilience to Climate Change: Mobile pastoralism is inherently adaptable to changing climatic conditions. Pastoralists have developed knowledge and strategies to cope with variable weather patterns, such as droughts or floods. Their mobility allows them to access different grazing areas, ensuring the survival of their livestock during extreme climatic events.


  1. Biodiversity Conservation: Pastoralist practices contribute to the preservation of biodiversity by maintaining diverse grassland ecosystems. The mobility of pastoralists prevents the dominance of certain plant species and allows for the coexistence of a wide range of plant and animal species, promoting ecological balance and protecting endangered species.


  1. Cultural Preservation: Mobile pastoralism is deeply rooted in the cultural identity of many communities. By supporting mobile pastoralism, we not only protect valuable ecosystems but also preserve unique cultural traditions, knowledge systems, and social structures that have sustained generations of pastoralists.


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Embracing and supporting mobile pastoralism can have positive impacts on climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, and the livelihoods of pastoral communities. Recognizing its value and implementing policies that empower and support pastoralists are crucial steps toward a more sustainable and resilient future.


Photo Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya