COVID‑19 places Iran’s nomadic pastoralists at a crossroads

Prepared by: Maryam Rahmanian  and Nahid Naghizade

Nomadic pastoralists in Iran play an important role in national food security and sovereignty.1 Since the arrival of COVID-19, they have been deeply concerned about the impact that the pandemic is likely to have on them. Their recently established national platform, the Union of Indigenous Nomadic Tribes of Iran (UNINOMAD),2 is taking action. UNINOMAD outlined its members’ concerns and proposed solutions in a letter sent to key national authorities on 10 March. We will outline the main points of the letter and reflect on what the overall situation might mean for nomadic pastoralism in Iran.  Read more

BCPs International Workshop in India

Date: 4-8 September 2017
Location: Butibagh Campus of Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan, Sadri, Rajasthan, India

International Workshop to develop Guidelines for Biocultural Community Protocols (BCPs) by Pastoralists and Livestock keeping Communities

The aim of this 5 day workshop/writeshop facilitated by Dr. Paul Mundy is to produce succinct guidelines for the development of Biocultural Community Protocols by and for pastoralist communities as well as other communities that have created and are stewarding indigenous and locally adapted livestock breeds. The is to be an update and refinement of the booklet Biocultural Community Protocols for Livestock Keepers that will incorporate the latest experiences, lessons learnt, and insights gained.

It will also describe some of the technological innovations enabling wide community participation in the BCP process over large areas. The objective of the guidelines is to enable more communities to establish their BCPs, facilitate this task for them and ensure that their BCPs contain all relevant information.

More information

Shifting camel cultures

This article on Camel cultures (specifically in India and Iran) has just been published in Seminar (issue 695):

Shifting camel cultures, Ilse Köhler-Rollefson, in Seminar #695 “Livestock Landscapes: a symposium on how domesticated animals shape our lives”, July 2017 (download as PDF)

Dr. Ilse Köhler-Rollefson is project coordinator at the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development and describes in this article her experience in Iran, including a meeting of UNICAMEL organised with the help of Cenesta.

Nomad girl in Iran


A tall and gaunt man in his fifties, with a gentle but somewhat resigned demeanour, Muhammed Rabii lamented that Iranian camel culture had totally changed since his childhood. ‘We never ate camel meat earlier and my father refused to take it until the end of his days. We believed that killing a camel would make a person cruel. And we never used camel wool to weave rugs, only garments, because we thought it disrespectful to the camel to step on its hair with our feet. But now camel breeding is all about meat production.’


The traditional knowledge of Mr. Rabii and his camel breeding colleagues – the result of astute observations on the relationship between camels and plants over generations – is supported by bona fide scientific research. Already in the 1960s, zoologist Hilde Gauthier Pilters studied the ecology of camels in the Sahara and, in a book published by the University of Chicago Press, came to the conclusion that their grazing behaviour does not cause damage to desert vegetation, but instead nurtures the growth of its plants.

Abolhassani win Paul K. Feyerabend Award 2014

Having a successful experience with Abolhassani Tribal Confederacy using “Coping with the Drought Cycle”, Cenesta supported by information from the Abolhassani representatives, prepared a nomination proposal to the Paul K. Feyerabend Foundation and the proposal won the Paul K. Feyerabend Award for 2014.

logo-pk-feyerabendThe Paul K. Feyerabend Foundation promotes the empowerment and well-being of disadvantaged human communities. By strengthening intra and inter-community solidarity the Foundation strives to improve local capacities, promote the respect of human rights, and sustain cultural and biological diversity. The Foundation was created in Switzerland in March 2006. It has an international Board of Directors including seven members. Continue reading Abolhassani win Paul K. Feyerabend Award 2014

Participatory knowledge sharing and planning workshop

28 November – 1 December 2013: Participatory knowledge sharing and planning workshop on “Re-empowerment of indigenous people and local communities for sustainable livelihoods and conservation of nature

In recent years, land degradation and the alterations to ecological conditions under various types of pressures, have negatively impacted the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and Local Communities (LCs) dependent on them. Much of these problems, as a matter of fact, appear related to the lack of involvement of IPs and LCs in governing and managing natural resources and nature in general.


With the aim of re-empowering these peoples, the Center for Sustainable Development (CENESTA) and numerous grassroots organizations within affected communities have outlined a project towards re-creating the conditions for sustainable livelihoods and conservation of nature within traditional territories. For that, a useful point of departure appeared a whole scale review of relevant national laws and regulations, seeking a meaningful role for IPs and LCs in landscape management and conservation. Continue reading Participatory knowledge sharing and planning workshop

Capacity Building Workshops

Iran is arid, semi-arid, and semi-humid country which is prone to desertification, drought and land degradation. Most of the drylands in Iran commonly are populated with nomadic Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and local communities (LCs). Therefore when we are talking about combatting desertification & land degradation it is only possible if the rights of the local communities and in particular indigenous nomadic tribes are respected and the responsibility for the care of Mother Earth and its resources is given back to these peoples through recognition of their territories as ICCAs (Indigenous Peoples and Community Conserved Areas). Continue reading Capacity Building Workshops