Informations et ressources scientifiques
sur le développement des zones arides et semi-arides

Accueil du site → Doctorat → Allemagne → 2012 → Pastoralism under Pressure : Vulnerability of Pastoral Nomads to Multiple Socio-political and Climate Stresses – The Shahsevan of Northwest Iran

Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (2012)

Pastoralism under Pressure : Vulnerability of Pastoral Nomads to Multiple Socio-political and Climate Stresses – The Shahsevan of Northwest Iran

Asghar Tahmasebi

Titre : Pastoralism under Pressure : Vulnerability of Pastoral Nomads to Multiple Socio-political and Climate Stresses – The Shahsevan of Northwest Iran

Auteur : Asghar Tahmasebi

Université de soutenance  : Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

Grade : Doctor Rerum Naturalium 2012

Pastoral nomadism is a livelihood source for over 200,000 families in Iran. They rear over 24 million head of animals such as sheep and goats throughout cycles of seasonal migration and thereby utilize over 40% of the rangelands in the country (ISC 2012). They contribute to the national economy by producing over 200,000 tons of red meat, 470,000 tons of milk, and 21,000 tons of wool annually (Akbari 2004), among other agricultural products. Their migratory lifestyle and economy, however, is increasingly under stress from contemporary socio-political and ecological changes. On the one hand, they are facing various socio-economic and political pressures, including state policies and interventions, population growth, land-use change and integration into a market economy. On the other hand, they are exposed to climate change and its impacts on their environment and life. So far there has no detailed study on the impacts of climate change and their interaction with socio- economic pressures on pastoral nomads. In fact, even our basic knowledge about their vulnerability to multiple stresses from socio-political process and climate variability changes is limited. This research addresses these knowledge gaps and furthers theoretical understanding of vulnerability using the case of the Shahsevan nomadic pastoralists in northwest Iran. To explore the central question of how vulnerability to multiple socio-political and climate stressors varies within the Shahsevan community, I conceptualize vulnerability as a function of exposure as “external” pressure and sensitivity and adaptive capacity as “internal” determinants of their vulnerability. It begins with examining the nature of these stimuli and their interaction or combined impacts on the Shahsevan pastoral economy using the concept of “double exposure." The “internal” side of their vulnerability is examined by analyzing their adaptive capacity and broader sensitivity at the household level. In addition, I analyze the adaptation strategies employed by the Shahsevan in response to multiple socio-political and climate stresses and discuss their implications for the continuation and adaptation of their pastoral economy. The research employed a combination of primary and secondary data to examine the underlying socio-political and economic processes contributing to vulnerability of the Shahsevan nomads. Their emic perception on climate variability and change as well as their adaptation and coping strategies were further evaluated by in-depth interviews and participant observation. Their views were then examined against meteorological data depicting the nature of climate stresses, including seasonality, temperature extremes, pastoral droughts as well as the long-term (35-40 years) trends in precipitation and temperature. A structured survey gathered quantitative data on specific livelihood strategies, sensitivities and adaptive capacities of 301 nomadic households in 43 winter camp sites. Together, the results show that the Shahsevan perceived rise in frequencies and magnitude of climate stresses, were corroborated by statistically relevant trends found in temperature and precipitation series. It is further found that the extensive land-use change and extension of agriculture land to the best part of their pasture are pushing their production system to less productive pastures. The resulted “ecological marginalization” together with increasing dependence of their production system on the market fodder and economy were identified as the main socio-economic processes contributing to increasing exposure of the Shahsevan nomads to multiple socio-economic and climate stresses. However, the range of adaptive capacities and corresponding sensitivities of Shahsevan households, together with the flexibility of their livelihood strategies, create a very diverse and dynamic vulnerability landscape at the community level. Households practicing pasture partnership pastoralism was the most vulnerable group, mainly due to high sensitivity inherent to this livelihood strategy. The herdsman husbandry pastoralists, in contrast, have the highest adaptive capacity and were thus the least vulnerable group of the Shahsevan. Based on the vulnerability landscape examined in this study, I conclude that, without proper adaptation policies and interventions by external actors, particularly state organizations, the increasing exposure to multiple sociopolitical and climate stresses may lead to widening vulnerability gaps between Shahsevan employing different livelihood strategies. In light of the existing and future capacity for coping and adaptation, I develop three scenarios outlining conditions for the evolution of their pastoral life and economy.


Version intégrale (3,5 Mb)

Page publiée le 3 décembre 2015, mise à jour le 10 novembre 2021