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29th Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Asia, the Far East and Oceania

The future of pastoralist communities needs to be addressed through improved animal health systems

Two-thirds of the agricultural land is grassland, often characterised by challenging climatic and topological conditions for human use. Through various types of mobile livestock husbandry systems, pastoralist communities have well adapted to the type of environment, where human and animal populations could not be sustained in any other way. These populations have managed to take advantage of these land reserves which are not suitable for crops, to develop unique ecological and economic potentials.

The OIE fully supports traditional pastoral systems as potential factors for noble protein production, poverty alleviation and sustainable management of land without crop production alternatives”, reaffirmed Dr Vallat, OIE Director General during the 29th Conference of the OIE’s Regional Commission for Asia, the Far East and Oceania.

However, pastoralist communities are under-represented as policy makers in countries and face numerous threats, such as detrimental policies on land use, the lack of social services, including health and education, food insecurity, natural disasters, conflicts and transboundary animal diseases. The threats to the future of pastoralism are global and likely to have a lasting effect on populations whose way of life and knowledge are part of mankind’s global heritage. 

To support the persistence of these communities in pastoral areas, the effective management of animal health is one of the main challenges. However the access to reliable veterinary care and agricultural extension services is made difficult by the mobility of pastoral livestock herds often in remote areas. To address this particularity, the training and use, under veterinary supervision, of veterinary para-professionals derived from and moving with pastoralist communities is an important and useful tool. “There is a need to better understand pastoralist management practices and movements to better deliver appropriate services and train appropriately veterinary para-professionals within pastoral communities with links to government and/or private veterinarians,” underlined Dr Vallat. The implementation of harmonised veterinary policies is also crucial to reduce the vulnerability of pastoralist communities and can be built on the results of OIE PVS evaluations. Moreover, it is recommended to strengthen the collaboration between Veterinary Services and Public Health Services and to cultivate a “One Health” approach.

The OIE is committed to raise awareness among high level decision-makers on the value of pastoralism to national economies and livelihood and on the need to develop accurate policies and regulations. Therefore the Organisation has established an “Alliance of Countries with Pastoralism Activities by Nomadic Populations” since 2013 to support pastoralist systems and constantly works to address major transboundary animal disease threats to pastoral livelihoods through its intergovernmental standards, global strategies for disease control (foot and mouth disease) or eradication (peste des petits ruminants), regional vaccine banks and through the PVS Pathway.

The OIE will continue to advocate for pastoralism and the health and well-being of pastoralists and their animals. A Global Conference on safeguarding pastoralism is under preparation in collaboration with Mongolia.

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