Fifty Years of Research on Pastoralism and Development
This archive IDS Bulletin reflects on 50 years of research on pastoralism at IDS. Much has changed, but there are also important continuities. The ‘end of pastoralism’ was proclaimed widely in the 1970s, yet, as a successful, resilient livelihood adapted to some of the harshest environments on the planet, pastoralism has survived, and remains an important livelihood for many.
Over the last 50 years, both pastoralism and development have changed massively. IDS work has attempted to bridge the gap between theory and practice, and to insert new understanding of pastoralism into development planning. This has involved building a coherent analysis of policies and institutions for pastoral development, and then helping to see the results of that analysis put into practice.
The issue brings together 13 articles on pastoralism published in the IDS Bulletin between 1986 and 2017. The articles address six overlapping themes: pastoral livelihoods; institutions and common property resource management; climate change and ecological dynamics; food security, early warning, and livelihood vulnerability; pastoral marketing; and conflict and governance.
Across these themes, IDS research has challenged mainstream development thinking and practice, highlighting the importance of mobility and living with uncertainty. Research has also challenged the standard models derived from settled systems, and emphasised flexibility, opportunism, and improvisation as responses to uncertainty.
Although massively changed over 50 years, and despite repeated proclamations of crisis and collapse, pastoralism remains, we argue, an important, resilient source of livelihood in marginal rangeland areas across the world, from which others can learn.