Adaptation and resilience in pastoral management of the Mediterranean Bedouin social-ecological system in the northwestern coastal zone of Egypt
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On the basis of the results of the ELVULMED ,MOUVE, and CLIMED research projects, this chapter presents a long-term analysis of the Bedouin society in the northwestern coastal zone (NWCZ) of Egypt, especially the resilience of the Bedouin social–ecological system facing global change. Located along the Mediterranean coast, the NWCZ is bordered by Libya to west, the hinterland of the Nile Valley to the east, and the northeastern Sahara to the south. Settled by Bedouin tribes, the NWCZ is a typical case study of the North African pastoral area. Global change in this arid region is characterized by frequent droughts and water scarcity, structural deficit in food security, strong demographic growth, rural exodus, new social demands, especially from the youth, and serious social challenges currently linked to the Arab Spring. The first part of this chapter presents some elements relevant to the history of the NWCZ, from the Roman period until the beginning of the twentieth century, to give a better understanding of the context of the establishment of the Bedouin society. Many of these elements are not specific to the NWCZ, and they concern the entire North African and western Asian region. The second part describes the major events that have occurred during the twentieth century in the NWCZ, with the objectives to better define the main phases of the Bedouin social–ecological system and to under- stand the drivers of long-term change and, consequently, define possible key factors for sustainable development in the face of the new context of global change, including rangeland recuperation and management. The third part considers the Bedouin strategies in the face of global change, especially the 15-year drought from 1995 to 2010, and the changes in the socioeconomic context linked to the building of infra- structures for water supply, tourism development, information and communication technologies, the new demands of the local society, mainly the youth, and more recently the Arab Spring. Maybe the main change is the weak role of the rangeland in the new Bedouin society. In the fourth part, three scenarios for the future are described and which have been drafted with the perceptions of different local stake- holders. The fifth and final part presents some concluding remarks, focused specifically on the future of the rangeland, its management, and the role of the Bedouin society, and more generally the future of the pastoral society in the new North African changing context. The results presented in this chapter come from data collected during three successive research projects conducted from 2011 to 2013. The first project was a survey based on a large questionnaire completed by 180 breeders in six villages in the NWCZ. The questionnaire included data about the history and structure of the family, the tribe, the land, the crop and livestock farming system, the family and local networks, the perception of change, and the family’s projects for the future, etc. The second project was a more detailed survey, based on the same questionnaire with 50 families in the Nagamish wadi located in the central part of the NWCZ, near the city of Marsa Matruh. This project used several tools from diverse disciplines, including crop and livestock farming systems, geography, economics, water management, and policy science. The third project involved a set of interviews with 25 local stakeholders in the NWCZ focusing on the following topics: their mental models about livestock, their perceptions regarding diverse topics such as regional trends, the main drivers of change, past, current, and future functions of livestock on a local scale, their hopes and fears for the local society, current challenges and conflicts, especially those linked to drought, water supply, and rangeland management, and their scenarios for the future.