Is it the timing? Am I just choosing the unpopular topics? Is the air-conditioning too cold? I think it is. Or is it common that the audiences at poster sessions are usually rather scarce? In occasion of the poster session about Mobile Dryland Pastoralism (2.2, Tuesday 20th, 9:45 am), I found it especially regrettable that not many people attended. So, I decided to highlight some of my favourite topics of today’s poster session 2.2.
Jenny Bischofberger, for example, presented an interesting poster about the integration of stakeholder's knowledge in land-use management in Namibia, based on interviews analyzing their perception about what is most important to save from degradation in the savannah.
I also appreciated Cornelia Heine’s presentation based on a survey about enabling environment and policies related to pastoralism in 26 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, analyzing pastoralist’s livelihoods.
Most fascinating was Dagmar Schoder’s presentation about the main challenges and options that improve the livelihood in two pastoral communities in Uganda and Kenya, based on focused group discussions. Interestingly, the options of improvement resulting from the group discussions (i.e. firewood and charcoal collection, and sales or wildlife and cultural tourism to increase income) provoked critiques from the audience about the sustainability of these possible developments. Now I ask myself, what comes first? Basic improvements of people's livelihood in a developing country, or the European noble models on sustainability?
Another research, also by Dagmar Schroder, was not less captivating. The question it addressed was: could cheese be the missing hard, stable currency to fortify self-sufficiency of pastoralist communities?
It was summed up how political establishments have incorporated negative stereotypes of the pastoralist group of Maasai as environmentally destructive – even though pastoralism is supposed to be one of the most sustainable livelihoods in the world! Maasai peoples have become victims of land conflict and are often forced to move to cities for day-paid jobs, while investors buy their land for gold mining or commercial hunting grounds.
This study attempted to address the hardships of the Maasai population and tried to find ways to facilitate traditional subsistence and economic autonomy of the Parakuyos. One of these ways is the production and sale of cheese to increase family income.
You can check out http://www.vsf.at/ to learn more about the successful implementation of Maasai cheese in Tanzania.
I would also like to invite you to have a look at the not less interesting posters about grazing exclosures in Ethiopia, mycotoxin contamination of animal feeds and milk safety in Kenya, or as well at the models about rest-rotation strategies in savannah vegetation, which you can find in the poster hall on the 1st floor at BOKU University.