Community Sustainable Livelihood Investment Fund (sanduq): Strengthening the social organisation and local economy of Indigenous nomadic tribes (INTs)
In the past decade, the Iranian NGO CENESTA has collaborated with Indigenous nomadic tribes (INTs) to undertake large-scale efforts to strengthen the social structure1 of nomadic pastoralists (e.g. their Councils of Elders) and their economic mechanism (e.g., via community sanduqs, that are Community investment Funds for Sustainable Livelihoods).
The customary organisations have been offered social recognition and visibility by assisting them to officially register as CBOs. This led to a relatively large number of registered CBOs (sanduqs), representing units as small as a local nomadic camp up and units as large as the Union of INTs and Camel Herders of Iran.
In some cases, these organisations have even acquired membership in relevant international organisations. The strengthening process moves from Participatory Action Research processes (identification of problems, opportunities, priorities for action) to the needed steps to recast their strong traditional social organisation in modern “legally acceptable” forms.
In general the INTs organisations are very clear on their intention to announce their formal existence and unite their voices at national level. The numerous pronouncements and declarations issued by them so far testifies to their intention to govern and manage their customary territories to create sustainable livelihoods along with the conservation of nature, as they have always done.
The impact of INTs declarations such as the ones mentioned above is obviously amplified by the fact that– on the ground– INTs demonstrate to be capable and effective in strategic and operational planning, management and good governance of their natural resources. This is due to their own great will and efforts, often against powerful odds and obstacles, and even needing to counteract misguided policies that remain in place despite their obvious failure.
With the support of CSOs and UNDP-GEF-SGP, good progress has also been achieved in community mechanisms for conflict resolution, conservation of nature and establishment of Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) . As a result, the social legitimacy of Indigenous nomadic pastoralists organisations (Sanduqs) have been increasing, nourished by their endogenous effort for solidarity, the mutual coherence of their territories, and their increased ability to negotiate with relevant government authorities.