The Indigenous Societies (Institutions) are Resilient to the Climatic catastrophes

Playing with nature since last two centuries is now appearing in the calamities of climate change. The normal cycles of drought due to El Niño is now changing very adversely. (El Niño brings widespread drought (i.e., precipitation deficit) to the tropics. Stronger or more frequent El Niño events in the future and/or their intersection with local changes in the mean climate toward a future with reduced precipitation would exacerbate drought risk in highly vulnerable tropical areas). Many vulnerable societies to climate change are now suffering. Drought in the horn of Africa is the latest news, pushing million of people to the hell of hunger and malnutrition. The famines in Africa are concurrent.

Many vulnerable societies to climate change are now suffering. Drought in the Horn of Africa is the latest news, pushing millions of people to the hell of hunger and malnutrition. The famines in Africa are concurrent on the continent because of climate change, one of the worst affected continents. Unfortunately, the response to such calamities is always faulty and for time being. If the world put as much effort into long-term programs to build resilience in communities, as it is now doing to feed the hungry, this famine would never have happened in horn of Africa.

The climate change scenario is happening, is no more a fashion of discussions. Climatic change is appearing with its consequences, i.e. droughts and floods like in Africa and Asia respectively. Once again floods are hitting human settlements and agriculture field in South Asia, especially Pakistan. The question is food security in sustainable manner. Food aids and emergency help cannot work long. Short term policies and introduction of high yielding varieties of plants and animals cannot work sustainably. These all efforts are short term. The main question is how to strengthen local communities to produce resilience and adapt to climate change. Produce food items from their own resources (well adapted livestock and plant species) in the climate change context.

drought

The first mistake started with the introduction of high yielding exotic varieties, which need very high inputs, ultimately result in environmental dilemma. Fruit farming in North and central highlands of Balochistan is the best example of the environmental degradation and water shortage as consequence of green revolution. While in fruit farming practices, ground water was lifted with electric power and now there is shortage of even drinking water. Also, high inputs in the form of pesticides and fertilizer resulted in many environmental consequences and loss of precious flora and fauna (biodiversity) and change in agroecosystems.

The fourth report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) published in 2007 projects that the global temperature of the planet’s atmosphere will likely have increased 1.1 to 6.4 C by the end of this century. The impact studies on biodiversity have shown significant changes in ecosystem and species distributions, principally due to increasing temperatures and altered precipitation regimes. The climate change will more intensify and threat to biodiversity and food chain will be more deepen. The scientists are agreeing that the loss to biodiversity minimizes the opportunities of food production. Another report, published very recently on world media, revealed that the flora and fauna migrate towards the pole and the polar diversity is going to disappear. The situation is changing very quickly, it is the time to rethink on the policies relates to local resources and communities to cope with the climate change calamities. The priority should go to more affected societies more focus to help.

drought and livestock

 Endogenous development and adaptability

Endogenous development is a development from within the communities. Such development is sustainable and resilient to climate change. Endogenous development is also of importance in developed countries with the high-input agriculture. Small-scale production system (SSPS) is an endogenous way of food production. Small-scale production system (SSPS), both of livestock and agriculture is one of the best tools for local communities to resist climate change. Local communities with their knowledge and resources can better coup with the situation of droughts. Pastoralism is another tool of resilience, the local community practice in Africa and Asia. Adaptation to climate change with the help of highly adapted livestock breeds and agriculture varieties is one of the best options; the vulnerable societies have had in hand. Adaptation to climate change is not a new phenomenon. Throughout human history, societies have adapted to climate variability alternating settlements, agricultural patterns, and other sectors of their economies and lifestyles. Adaptation in human history has been mostly successful.

Conclusion

Climate change with all its calamities is striking vulnerable communities very badly. Unfortunately, African and Asian continents are more prone to such calamities. The concurrent droughts and floods in Africa and Asia are the well-known examples of the situation. Indigenous/local resources and knowledge can be the best tool to cope with the climate change scenario, as local varieties are highly adapted to the local conditions. Local genetic resources produce in a very low input system of production and sometimes even need zero inputs. Applying high input unsustainable production system (factory, high mechanized, monoculture, energy based) cannot be helpful. Also, gene control giants (like Monsanto in Africa), land grabbing, political backing for cross breeding of indigenous livestock breeds and regional conflicts are even worsening the situation.

Indigenous livestock breeds, especially camel, can play a better and crucial role in such circumstances. Camel is one of the most important of them, survived the affected families to shift to other places to resist drought. Local livestock breeds consume many times the lesser quantity of water compared to the exotic livestock breeds and are more resistant to local diseases and pests. The best way to combat climate change, droughts, desertification etc is to promote endogenous development and to make the local communities resilient to the situation. The priority of the international aid should go to the most affected communities due to climate change. The main focus should give on the resilience, not just food aid so that the world can live in harmony and peace.

A concept note for camel development

It is a real time pleasure that camel is receiving attention of the scientists more than ever. I hope the belongings will change in camel’s favor soon. From this end of the world, I would like to say that everything, each entity, organization and camel stake holder is important. Our basic theme must be inclusive but not exclusive. We should take on board all the stake holders for a global camel initiative. CARDN, IFAD, ISOCARD, Tvisky etc, everyone is important and playing important role.
Also about ideas of work, yeah, there is still need to work on each issue of camel. There are many people, scientists, workers in this world who are working on camel. Camel’s people are really devoted and already working in hard conditions. We have good human resource, so let’s work on all issues and correlate them all. Everything to be done is important; all are interwoven and correlated issues. In many areas of the world, there is high demand for camel products, esp camel milk but there is no good information system on the availability of milk and other products. In some area camel milk is available but marketing is poor. In some institutes, scientific publications are available but not extended to the stake holders. In some areas farms are available but the data is either not published or published at very local levels. Also, we really do not know about the sanctuaries, movement, population, breeds trends & status and production potential (quantitative traits) etc of camel. Some new diseases also threatened camel production and health in the recent time. Also gene level studies are important to know the real potential etc. There is also need to study camel in the climate change context. In Africa some pastoral communities are shifting from cattle pastoralism to camel pastoralism because cattle is the most prone to droughts. There are many global camel issues, like Australia is going to kill camel is carbon credit. Such problems are political also. The same camel can be use as food aid for the African continent and the recent drought stricken populace in Somalia and part of Kenya. Also camel work needs to be link with the pastoralism and dry land environment.
To materialize all the above ideas, funding is also very important. Funding is not an easy task especially these days because of economies crisis everywhere. Also, as an ice breaking a meeting of the organizations, scientists, representative from camel communities, funding agencies is also important. ISOCARD is going to have a camel conference at the junction of 2011-2011 in Oman. That is very good opportunity to participate and have a 1 day satellite meeting at the end of the conference. I wish if the ISOCARD authorities invite funding agencies and the other above said stake holders and have joint declaration on camel. ISOCARD is publishing a journal on camel and already conducted two camel conferences at global level, i.e. in Alain and Djerba, Tunisia. The journal of camel practice and research (JCPR), is another good source of data on camel.
FAO is also a good source of information on camel. Many publications of FAO on camel are available. The FAO funding on the application of global plan of action on animal genetic resources can also be helpful but only the governments can send the proposals against such FAO funding. FAO can appreciate governments to have camel projects.
Now, please walk for a concrete goal. Dr Aziz from KSA said, he can help in arranging findings or at least I understood that from his email. I am available for a joint camel work.

Quick Facts about Camel History

The camel was domesticated bit later than other animals so its name appeared late in the register of domesticated animals. The one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius) is found in the all Arab land, Africa, South and central asia. dromedary camel is also found in Australian deserts commonly known as feral camel. Australian camels were actually emigrated to Australia with Asian people, especially Afghan to use as beast of burden for Australian development in eighteenth century. Unfortunately, Australian government is going to kill such important animal genetic resource as a part of carbon credit. Two-humped camel (Camelus bactrianus ) is an Asiatic animal found in Gobi desert and other central Asian countries.

The dromedaries were domesticated even earlier than the Bactrian, before 3000 BC in the Arabian Peninsula. The term “dromedary” is derived from the dramas Greek for “road”) and thus is directly applicable only to the racing or riding dromedary. However, the term is used throughout the world to describe this specie. Dromedaries were first associated with nomadic Semitic cultures and did not become important until the rise of the Arabian culture. They became important domestic animals only with the Muslim conquests of Egypt in the 7th to 11th centuries AD.

The Bactrian Camels are thought to have been domesticated prior to 2500 BC. The name Bactrian is derived from a place name, Bactria, on the Oxus River in northern Afghanistan. Domesticated Bactrian camels were found in southern Russia by 1700-1200 BC and even in western Siberia by the 10th century BC. They were used in China as early as 300 BC as the original “silk  route” camels, but were replaced by crossbreds of the Bactrian/dromedary
later on.

Camel is important in climate change scenario


Camel is precious animal genetic resourece and highly adapted to dry, harsh and hostile environment of its habitat. Camel, while consuming scanty and rough vegetation produces valuable and health friendly milk. It produces in the conditions where other aniaml event cannot keep soul and body together. In the global change affects and climate change scenario, camel is the most suitable animal to be use as an agent of food security. Camel rely on the marginal lands which are unable to produce crops. Water is the major limiting fector of dry lands and camel is the most effecienct animal in water economy. Unfortunately camel is always neglected while formulating policies for agricultural development. Camel is under threat in its natural habitat. There are many reason for this sad state of situation, all are man made. It is the utmost need of time to conserve camel with the perspectives of camel herders. Utilizaiton is the best conservation. Camel milk can be a good tool for its utilization and ulitimately conservation. With the help of this move, camel can be declared as a good farm animal rather than a beast of burden.