Resilient Pastoralism: Towards Sustainable Futures in Rangelands

Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Project no. NE/P01626X/1), 2016-2017

Mongolia Kenya Introduction

Project Outline:

‘Resilient Pastoralism: Towards Sustainable Futures in Rangelands’ is a 12 month project funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund’s (GCRF) ‘Building Resilience’ call.  As a foundation building project, it brings together new teams of researchers to explore innovative approaches to resilience, to develop and test new questions and to better understand policy uptake and ‘pathways to impact’, with a view to shaping larger scale research projects in the future.

Our project work was carried out in Kenya and Mongolia by an interdisciplinary team comprising UK-based and in-country academics, NGOs and pastoralist communities; we brought together geographers, anthropologists, economists, remote sensing and livestock production specialists, with key local experts, namely the pastoralists and policy communities who live, practice and manage pastoralism on a daily basis. As a team, we were concerned to engage critically with the concept of ‘resilience’ and associated policies and practices within the context of diverse pastoralist societies.  Pastoralist livelihood strategies and identities formed the common thread linking the key study countries of Kenya and Mongolia.  As a key aspect of our interdisciplinary approach, we sought to integrate insights into local histories and responses to environmental change, with the potential of newly available remote sensing datasets, to begin to explore pathways to more ‘resilient’ futures. This was achieved through desk-based analyses of current approaches to resilience and existing ‘resilience frameworks’; a series of in-country meetings and workshops (see events); online reviews and consultations, interviews with policy makers and donors and a short targeted period of fieldwork with pastoralist communities in Narok District, Kenya and Sumber and Bayanjargalan soums, Mongolia.

Through these activities and with specific reference to the communities and stakeholders at our case study sites, we sought to address the following questions:

i) What are diverse stakeholder/ cultural meanings of environmental change and resilience?

ii) What information requirements do pastoralist communities have in relation to environmental risk that are appropriate to their livelihoods and would help them build (locally meaningful and culturally appropriate and desirable forms of) resilience to both short and longer term shocks?

iii) To what extent have previous projects/ donor initiatives delivered these and been taken up pastoralists & policy makers?

iv) How can new datasets and innovative methods and approaches be used to develop richer understandings of pastoral resilience, facilitate uptake and ultimately support pastoral resilience and policymaking in the future?

v) How can these lessons be scaled up nationally and through organisations such as World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism (WISP) taking into account both different cultural scenarios and different types of pastoral environments?

These questions are being addressed through a range of project outputs.

For further information on the ‘Resilient Pastoralism’ project, contact project Principal Investigator: Dr Caroline Upton (

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