Impact of policy and ecological changes on livelihoods dynamics on the fringes of Syrian rangelands
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Roberto La Rovere, Aden A. Aw-Hassan, George Arab. (31/12/2003). Impact of policy and ecological changes on livelihoods dynamics on the fringes of Syrian rangelands. South Africa.
In Syria in recent decades, the transition zone from rangeland to arable land has seen changes in population (+48%), workforce patterns (+162% in the share of female labor), and animal stocks (+168% sheep; Hazen, Ngaido, & Chaherli 2002). It is thought that policies to reverse rangeland deterioration and reduce nomadism have affected customary rights and mobility arrangements, and have left people with fewer options to overcome ecological variations (Rae et al. 2001). This, in turn, has put stress on traditional sources of income and induced a diversification of livelihood strategies. The Khanasser Valley Integrated Research Site (KV1RS) is ICARDA's benchmark site for integrated natural resources management (TNRM) in marginal areas of Syria. This study analyzes current household livelihood strategies, their major adaptations to recent changes, and the dynamics of semi-sedentary rural communities on the fringes of northwestern Syria's rangeland. The study was conducted in Hammam village, in the southeast of Khanasser valley, below the 200 mm rainfall probability line, beyond which crop cultivation is forbidden. Major changes in the study area have been reported: 1.1 Pastoral dynamics A few decades ago the portfolio of livelihood strategies was limited to livestock herding and, rather infrequently, wage labour from crop harvesting in rainfed areas. Livestock was moved toward wetter areas in spring to graze on native vegetation (Wachholt, 1996). Today, these same zones are often abandoned in summer and autumn because households have begun moving their flocks further north or to coastal mountainous areas (Figure 1). 1.2 Natural resources Whereas 'new ecology' thinking (Ellis 2000) claims that traditional grazing control systems adapt constantly to shocks, and that pastures undergo fluctuations in response to wide rainfall variations (Rae et al. 1996), past research suggests that the capacity of the Syrian rangeland as a source of feed for sheep flocks has declined. About three decades ago it could contribute more than 67% of the annual feed needs of 7 million sheep; 10 years later, a good year could provide up to 50% and a bad year 16% of the dietary needs of about 10 million sheep; today it contributes just 15% (Wachholtz 1996) to 25% (Ngaido, Shomo & Arab 2001). This decline has been attributed to rising sheep numbers, encroachment of mechanized cropping, and poor range management (Hazell et al. 2002). 1.3 Rangeland policies The range has been affected by land reform policies (1958-1969), the transformation of pastoral communities into agro-pastoral communities, shifting of the cultivation frontier into more marginal areas (1970-1992) (Ngaido et al. 2001), and weakened tribal grazing networks. In 1994, cultivation was banned on lands that receive less than 200 mm of annual precipitation, thus nomadic tribes had to find new grazing paths to offset the resulting loss of barley feed. This has entailed using pastures and residues in wetter locations, necessitating earlier, more distant, and longer-lasting migration. 2. MATERIALS AND METHODS The present study adopted a sustainable livelihoods approach (Ellis 2000) to characterize livelihood strategies and the ability of households to respond to change and shocks. Multidisciplinary variables were overlaid, with the aid of geographic information systems, to select representative communities and map the spatial and temporal mobility of herders and migrants. Rapid rural appraisal and semi-structured surveys (formal and informal, individual and group interviews) were used to characterize households and diagnose key issues at the community level.
- Agricultural Research Knowledge 
Aw-Hassan, Aden A.https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9236-4949