Recasting Tenure and Labour in Non-Equilibrium Environments: Making the Case for High-Reliability Pastoral Institutions

January 2024
L. Pappagallo. (Land Use Policy)

This academic article from the open access journal, Land Use Policy uses evidence from field research in southern Tunisia to consider the role of collective management institutions in protecting both land and labour rights within pastoralist communities. The author draws from their research conducted between 2018 and 2022 in the dryland region of Tataouine, in a community called Douiret which has a total human population of around 9,000 but of whom only around 700-1,000 are in permanent residence. The paper describes how flexibility to meet changing environmental and other conditions is permitted through changes in practices that tend to occur within collective land and natural resource management institutions – a common advantage of pastoralism in fragile environments. The author focuses on the particular practice that is locally called khlata, a practice of pooling herds that legitimizes access to a much wider area of the rangeland while also allowing for the labour resources needed for herding to be shared. They argue that where membership of the management group is fluid and rules are not always well defined, this allows for a greater flexibility that makes the overall form of land management highly-reliable in this non-equilibrium environment. The author also argues that this then strengthens mobility options, including outside the community for work outside herding, and helps the local communities to adapt to wider political and economic change. A fascinating read whose conclusions help shed light on pastoral land management more widely, not just in this one part of southern Tunisia.