Global Pastoralists Gathering is hosted by the Hammar people of Turmi,
South Omo, Ethiopia, 29 January-2 February 2005  

From 29th January - 2nd February 2005, respected leaders of pastoralist groups from the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia gathered in the pastoralist area of South Omo, Ethiopia for what would prove to be an extraordinary event. The Global Pastoralist Gathering brought together 120 pastoralists leaders from 25 countries from both South and North, and 100 members of government, international organisations, NGOs and other bodies. The purpose was to promote the sharing of information and ideas between pastoralists in their search for appropriate development and a sustainable environment.

Pastoralist groups from around the world gathered in a pastoralist area of East Africa to discuss and share problems and solutions – taking the opportunity to find common ground and inspiration and exchange new ways of negotiating an improved deal for pastoralists. The gathering focussed on how pastoralist wisdom can be more widely understood, how governments and powerful institutions can recognize their needs and interests and how they can influence change.

WISP (World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism) was one of the major themes at the gathering. This UNDP initiative came out of the ‘ Global Pastoral Programme' workshop hosted by the UNDP Global Drylands section, held in Nairobi, Kenya 2004, aiming to ‘design a partnership and programme to build momentum for greater recognition of the need for sustainable pastoral development' (see report here) (PDF 239kb).

WISP was designed to lobby for the sustainable management of pastoral lands through the custodianship of pastoralist peoples and developed a proposal paper outlining how pastoralism could be sustained into the future. International organizations and ‘experts' have been challenged to rethink their engagements with pastoralists and ensure that initiatives such as WISP are led directly by pastoralists' knowledge and wishes and not carried out on their behalf, excluding them.

The Gathering was facilitated by the United Nations Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs - Pastoralist Communication Initiative (UNOCHA – PCI), Ethiopia, after the UNDP accepted the challenge given by PCI that international organizations and ‘experts' should engage pastoralists more directly, and take their lead from these people. The event was initially meant to challenge large development institutions and governments to involve pastoralists directly, using the WISP process as entry point. As planning of the event developed it became clear that the event would provide much wider discussion opportunities for pastoralists beyond the WISP programme. The event brought together pastoralist leadership from many countries of the world with government, international organizations and funding agencies.

The agenda of the event was kept loose to accommodate not only pastoralist views but also their culture and norms of gathering.

A film made at the event is due for completion soon – and should provide an important insight into the event and what took place.

For more information, and to be included in announcements about outcomes please email: globalpastoralistgathering@yahoo.co.uk

Official statement given at the close of the Gathering (PDF 477kb)

Turmi Morning Herald 5 detailed daily reports on the Gathering – with photographs. These reports were shared between participants and designed to enable those at the gathering to share stories, events, and information and to encourage discussion. Turmi Morning Herald 30 January 2005 (PDF 176kb); Turmi Morning Herald 31 January 2005 (PDF 189kb); Turmi Morning Herald 1 February 2005 (PDF186kb); Turmi Morning Herald 2 February 2005 (PDF 351kb); Turmi Morning Herald 3 February 2005 (PDF 435kb).

Report by Daoud Tari (PDF 25kb) – a pastoralist facilitator for the event, principally working to ensure participation from the East Africa region.

Pastoralists’ views - report by Carol Kerven, Macaulay Institute, UK and co-editor of the Nomadic Peoples journal.

Report on WAMIP activities at the Global Pastoralist Gathering by Boku Tache, member of WAMIP Coordinating Committee.

Report/discussion by Michele Nori, Participant at the Gathering.

One UNOCHA – PCI comment after the Gathering:
“It has affected many people quite strongly. Practically everyone who attended has contacted us to tell us how moving and important it was for them and the pastoralist cause. Some even have gone as far as saying that it has completely changed the way they perceive the world! We have organised many large events over the years, but have never had this sort of feedback. Perhaps not surprisingly the strongest feedback came from the pastoralist peoples, compared to the comments from organisations who work 'for' pastoralists. This we think is the key, the magic of the gathering was pastoralists themselves being able to talk without outsiders talking on their behalf, as is the usual practice. At Turmi the pastoralists were the stars of their own event.”

UN OCHA Ethiopia website reports

Including the following report - ‘Ethiopian Pastoralist Women Speak Out' (PDF 300kb).

United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) report on the gathering (TURMI, 2/16/2005) ETHIOPIA: Pastoralists lament loss of grazing land.

Click here to access "Rain, Prosperity and Peace" the Institute of Development Studies report on the Global Gathering. A series of short articles set out the perspectives of pastoralist leaders from 23 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas recording the pastoralists’ own views as heard (and in some cases those of non-pastoralists who were invited by the pastoralists to attend), and as such the document provides a clear indication of key policy issues as seen from a new perspective; issues which transcend differences between
countries and cultures.