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Environment / Sustainability

'Pastoralist Voices on Climate Change' documentary trailer released

May 26, 2011

"Any time you get in the same room a group of scientists with a group of community members and people that work in the civil society, there is kind of a magic that takes place," says Robin Reid, director of CSU's Center for Collaborative Conservation, in the opening seconds of the trailer for 'Pastoralist Voices on Climate Change,' a documentary produced and directed by Joana Roque De Pinho.

Research that serves local people

Roque De Pinho is a post-doctoral researcher at Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas in Lisbon, Portugal. She also co-wrote, co-directed, and co-produced the award-winning documentary Through our Eyes: A Maasai Photographic Journey with Lindsey Simpson, who also works on the Voices project. Both women are CSU graduates. The film team also includes Nicholas Tapia, a CSU videographer and alumni.

The Pastoralist Voices documentary is produced in conjunction with the Livestock-Climate Change Collaborative Research Support Program’s Pastoral Transformations to Resilient Futures: Understanding Climate from the Ground Up (PTRF) project led by CSU anthropology Professor Kathleen Galvin and Robin Reid. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research’s (CGIAR) Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has also lent support to the film.

“It is vitally important to us that our research serves local people. Therefore, getting an understanding of climate change from the ground up is critical to knowing what can be done to mitigate or adapt to it,” Galvin says.

Scientists and pastoralist livestock keepers in Kenya

The film will illustrate the collaborative and participatory process between CSU scientists and pastoralist livestock keepers in Kenya, documenting two collaborative workshops whereby local land users directly inform the scientific process and climate change science, which, in turn, feeds back to local decision-making.

The foundation of both Pastoralist Voices and the PTRF project is that climate change is a complicated, dynamic puzzle that can only be solved by the collective effort of all stakeholders. “As a scientist, I’m only bringing one little piece of the puzzle,” Galvin says.

“Climate change is real,” says a workshop participant in the documentary. Roque De Pinho agrees. “In Amboseli, people have talked to me about having lost the ability of predicting when the rains will come, because of changes in raining patterns. During the last drought, in 2008-2009, the worst in living memory, some Maasai mothers wondered if their young children were ‘even Maasai anymore… they are growing up without drinking milk,’ which is the quintessential Maasai food.”

Shifts in socio-economy and culture

Roque De Pinho and Galvin hope the documentary can help pastoralists to explain these kinds of socio-economic and cultural shifts related to climate change. “My hope is that people at various policy levels will see this film and listen to know what is happening on the ground,” Galvin says.

Gregory Akall, a researcher and press officer with the United Nations in Kenya, believes pastoralist communities have a lot of knowledge to contribute. As he says in the documentary, “These people have a wealth of knowledge on how to cope. They have managed to cope for centuries. This is a lifestyle that has stood the test of time.”

Galvin believes that pastoral communities need a greater voice in decision-making that affects them. “Our goal is to start a dialog at various policy levels with local people to address issues related to climate change. This is a way to give a voice to marginalized people. This could be the first step towards getting pastoralists a seat at the table in important policy decisions,” she says.

A return to Kenya

During the next nine months, the PRTF and Pastoralist Voices team will return to Kenya for additional workshops, interviews, and filming. The full-length documentary will be released in spring 2012.

A trailer of Pastoralist Voices on Climate Change is available on the Livestock-Climate Change CRSP’s YouTube channel.

The Livestock-Climate Change Collaborative Research Support Program (LCC CRSP) was established through a $15 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development awarded to CSU. This program pursues interdisciplinary research, education and outreach in semi-arid regions to better the lives and livelihoods of small-scale livestock producers by developing strategies to help them cope with the impacts of climate change.

More information about the LCC CRSP.

Contact: Sarah Lupis
Phone: 970-5060