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NCCR North-South - Research Partnerships for Sustainable Development

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Pastoral Production Systems

Extensive Production Systems in Semi-Arid Regions

Options for Sustainable Future Livelihoods


    Extensive production systems (EPS) are effective land use systems which allow using scarce natural resources in rural semi-arid and highland-lowland areas by various societies. However, the societal and economic role of EPS is frequently underestimated if not overlooked, particularly at national political level. Ranging from pastoralism (sedentary and mobile) to alternative land uses (e.g. agro-sylvo-pastoralism), which secure the livelihoods of millions of rural peoples; the diversity of adaptation is remarkable. Over the last decades rapid and major socio-political, economic, cultural, institutional, and ecologic changes have put heavy and unprecedented pressures on many EPS. Considering their social, economic and political marginalisation, innovations are needed to motivate the younger generation to reconsider the EPS areas as a promising way of life and to convince policy makers to consider EPS as a potential capable to contribute to reduce migration towards urban centres and developed countries.


    The main goal is to identify and analyse innovative options for extensive land use systems in semi-arid and highland-lowland regions in order to improve the livelihoods of the concerned populations. This includes options for adaptation and transformation in the environment (sustainable land use and natural resource management) as well as in the society (wellbeing, especially increased resilience, health and equity). Therefore, the TPP will
    (1) assess various institutional changes related to the (un/ sustainable) use of extensive natural resources with a special focus on patterns of problems, potentials and processes affected by Global Change;
    (2) develop the methodological framework of the impact assessment of multi-level interventions as well as combined monitoring tools to derive best practices; for this a participatory and a systemic approach will be combined and issues of up- and downscaling addressed; and
    (3) enhance existing networks and capacities at different levels as well as assess determinants of successful implementation (conflict mitigation, sustainable pasture use, equity effectiveness promotion, improved access) based on selected interventions in the perspective of up-scaling experiences.


    Though scientific literature regarding key features of EPS is vast, few rigorous scientific comparative investigation related to implementation processes has been conducted. In line with the NCCR North-South approach and the World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism (WISP/UNDP), this TPP is designed to make a genuine contribution to research on EPS by
    (i) linking sociological, ecological, and economic perspectives,
    (ii) using an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach grounded in regional partnerships, and
    (iii) comparing and capitalizing experiences gained in different geographical contexts.

    For this two entry points are chosen according to the competences and the existing research priorities West Africa, Central Asia, and Horn of Africa:
    (a) access to social services, and
    (b) sustainable natural resource management.

    This will allow a more comprehensive understanding of implementation, e.g. of novel land use arrangements such as a pastoral code, new collective institutions, conflict mitigation procedures or adapted social and economic services (e.g. joint animal and human vaccinations, commodity chains).


    The overall output is a framework for a comprehensive analysis of EPS at different levels of institutions, land use and natural resource management, access to social services and conflict mitigation and its implications. It will further provide a new methodological tool that allows combining impact assessment of environment and social services. In addition the TPP will feed a cross-fertilizing institutional learning process between the involved JACS. It will enhance policy dialogue between concerned populations and responsible authorities, allowing for up-scaling of improved interventions on sustainable natural resource management and social services.


Research 2001-2009

Study Areas

in the world:

The NCCR North-South is hosted by the University of Bern
and funded jointly by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation