Kyrgyzstan: ACTED’s role in helping to reduce tension through defining and highlighting winter pasture borders
Since 2011 ACTED has been helping the secluded sub-region of Kyzyl-Tuu in Southern Kyrgyzstan to define pasture borders in a bid to reduce tension arising from communities allowing their animals to graze on their neighbours’ winter pasturelands. In June 2012, this project was completed having facilitated the agreements of pasture border demarcation, mapping of pasture resources, and increased local pastoralists’ knowledge of pasture management in order to allow the continuation of their livelihoods with increased production.
Kyzyl-Tuu in Southern Kyrgyzstan is an isolated district surrounded by picturesque mountains covered in thick snow throughout the winter and spring months. Comprised of 21 villages, the communities are highly dependent on livestock and pastoralism for their survival. Akunov, 42, lives in the small community of Karyngen, Kyzyl-Tuu, with his wife, daughter, and two sons. Akunov owns a total of seven animals including a horse, two cows, and four sheep. In the summer, Akunov shepherds his livestock to mountainous summer pastures that seem almost endless; though in the winter when resources are much more scarce he relies on rocky winter pastures along with others from his community.
ACTED initially identified Kyzyl-Tuu as possessing a potential for conflict over the limited winter pasture use. Over the past few months, ACTED has responded by initiating a conflict mitigating project aimed at reducing tension stemming from the use of these winter pastures while additionally offering trainings in an effort to improve pasture use.
When asked what kind of problems Akunov had encountered on his community’s pastureland, he responded with the fact that neighbouring villagers had been allowing their animals to graze on his community’s pastures. ACTED found that this response was consistent among many of the pastoralists within the communities of Kyzyl-Tuu. ACTED further found that part of the reason for some of the population allowing their animals to graze on neighbouring pasturelands was due to a lack of awareness of pasture borders – meaning they did not necessarily know where their community’s pasture land stopped and where their neighbour’s began. This information (the communities’ perceptions of their winter pastures and official border lines) was mapped out in order to compare the information and also highlight the problems to community leaders during meetings to facilitate agreements of new borders.
The project has helped to resolve disputed issues of grazing land between neighbours.
Maps of each of the communities pastures were created with GPS devices, GPS enabled cameras, and satellite imagery. Overlaying this information are photographs of points of interest, to make it easier for community members to know where the boundaries are and to avoid future disputes. Despite a harsh winter, ACTED staff and community members rode on horse and walked through pastures to get a good picture of the pasture demarcations. To support this, ACTED has been facilitating meetings with the attendance of local authorities and community leaders with the aim of agreeing new borders for their winter pastures. The success of these meetings has led to further meetings with members of each individual community in order to show the new winter pasture borders. These meetings were aided by maps and photos of the boundaries of these pastures allowing the pastoralists to visualise the limits of their grazing land.
Furthermore, ACTED has conducted trainings for the targeted villages’ pastoralists and carried out information campaigns in the targeted communities to promote agricultural activities. This has given pastoralists and the general public alike information on pasture maintenance and management to allow more efficient use of their pastures. As a result of the training, Kabashev, one of the attendees, stated, ‘I have learned how to purposefully use the pasture and received a full store of knowledge about the use of grazing lands.’
When asked about the overall impact of the project, Akunov gave a positive response: ‘The project has helped to resolve disputed issues of grazing land between neighbours.’ The project has also received high praises from a community leader of Kara-Kol village, who stated that the project was ‘an important and useful project’ while another pastoralists from Kara-Kol encouragingly announced, ‘this project has helped to resolve these issues [of tension] over the years over the use of grazing land.’
The project is implemented with support of the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI). In addition, support is provided by the European Union through the Transition Alliance of Southern Kyrgyzstan. IMPACT Initiatives is a global partner of ACTED for the REACH mapping tool.