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Following the herd: why pastoralism needs better media coverage

Mike Shanahan

Briefing, 4 pages

Mobile pastoralism contributes substantially to food security, livelihoods and economic prosperity, and can increase resilience to climate change; but policymakers, donors and the public at large tend not to appreciate its benefits.

Policy narratives portray pastoralism as an outdated practice, and the media stories that help shape policy processes and public opinion often contribute to these false portrayals. An IIED study analysed the content of stories from media outlets in Kenya, China and India, and surveyed journalists in each country. It identified significant knowledge gaps and inter-country differences in how journalists perceive and portray pastoralists and pastoralism. The analysis also found that media outlets in these countries under-report climate change, the economic value of pastoralism and the links between pastoralist mobility and resilience.

Journalists, researchers and pastoralist communities need to work together to improve media coverage of pastoralism, and by doing so highlight pastoralism’s potential contribution to sustainable development in a changing climate.

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