Summary of the challenges and benefits of mobile pastoralism
WISP is a global initiative that supports the empowerment of pastoralists to sustainably manage dryland resources, and is a program of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.According to WISP, mobile pastorlism can promote poverty alleviation and ecosystem integrity, increase biodiversity, and improve animal genetic resources, all by managing grazing patterns to account for the sparse vegetation and relatively low fertility of dryland soils.
Despite the many potential benefits of mobile pastoralism, negative perceptions persist and pastoralist communities are often socially and politically marginalized. Many aid programs attempted to move away from supporting “antiquated” visions of mobile herds in the 1970s and 80s to a more modern vision of livestock agriculture modeled on the production systems practiced in developed countries. These sedentary systems more often promote overgrazing and the destruction of drylands ecosystems than their mobile counterparts.
WISP advocates for mobile pastoralism as a viable, sustainable livelihood by promoting laws, civil society organizations and the dissemination of best-practices and technical information. WISP also serves as a catalyst for partnerships between pastoralists, governments, NGOs, donors, and the private sector to support sustainable dryland pastoralism.
You can watch a video here to learn more about pastoralism in Kenya, or read a post about WISP's Knowledge Management Practices here.