Collection of Kyrgyz traditional pastoral knowledge

In order to restore rational methods of pasture use

Key Facts

Implementation years: 2007-2008

Place of implementation: Kok-Oyrok aiyl district, Chui region

Donor: Christensen Foundation, USA

Partner: jamaat "Kok-Oyrok"


Pastures in Kyrgyzstan make up about 90 percent of all agricultural land. From time immemorial, pastures have played a huge role in the economic, cultural and spiritual life of the Kyrgyz. The presence of this natural resource had a huge impact on the whole way of life of the nomadic people. Kyrgyz livestock breeders have learned to live in harmony with nature and raise livestock, the basis of their material well-being, without damaging pastures. This knowledge and skills were passed down from generation to generation, serving as a guarantee for the survival of the Kyrgyz and the preservation of the natural habitat.

The Kyrgyz Republic gained independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was preceded by more than a century of colonization - at the beginning by Tsarist Russia, and then as part of the Soviet Union. This period, in general, had a significant negative impact on the traditional way of life of the Kyrgyz and the state of pastures. The intensification of the livestock industry during the Soviet period almost brought pastures to a state of ecological catastrophe. The age-old knowledge of the people about pasture animal husbandry, ways of sustainable coexistence of man and nature were not taken into account, ignored and, for the most part, were lost and forgotten.

Today, due to a significant increase in the number of livestock among the population in all regions of the country, the issue of rational and efficient use and management of pasture resources is becoming increasingly important. Currently, pasture resources are used extremely inefficiently and irrationally. The time has come to revise the entire concept of grazing and the corresponding legislative framework, to develop a system for the management, use and control of pasture resources. In dealing with this difficult task, well-thought-out government policies and the understanding and support of these policies by pasture users are key factors in achieving success in solving this issue.

Therefore, it is essential to collect the traditional knowledge of the Kyrgyz on grazing and use of pastures in livestock communities, to study and select the most valuable and applicable practices together with members of these communities, and to provide them in a generalized form to policymakers and legislative bodies.

the main objective

This RRF project, the first in traditional knowledge, was aimed at improving the lives of rural, mountainous, and especially poor people by creating conditions for sustainable, equitable and efficient use of natural resources through the Community Based Natural Resources Management mechanism, based on rational, fair and economically viable traditional methods.

Project objectives

Collection, analysis, discussion with communities and preservation of traditional knowledge about livestock grazing and sustainable ecosystem management. This study was an attempt to explore this interaction between humans and nature, as well as the changes that have taken place over the past century and the impact these changes have had on pastoral communities.

Location of the project

The study was focused on three high-mountain communities - in the villages of Kaiyndy, Karal-Dobo and Tegirmenti of the Kok-Oirok ayil okmotu of the Kemin district of the Chui region. The main selection criteria for these villages were:

- mountain villages with pronounced livestock communities;

— a long history of living in a given landscape environment;

— age and gender ratio of the population;

— wealth of the landscape environment;

— Preservation of certain traditional grazing skills.

Main directions in the study of traditional knowledge

- Features of grazing, informal traditional institutions that play a role in decision-making;

— Pastures: state, changes, problems, pasture assessment indicators;
– Traditional and modern animal husbandry;

— Pastoral culture: traditions, life, folklore;

— Use of pasture natural resources: traditional ways of using natural resources and resolving pasture conflicts.

All areas were considered and analyzed through the prism of the “nature-man” relationship: how and why they changed over time, who and what influenced these changes, who and what may suffer from these changes, what can be done to restore sustainable development and traditional experience.

Project feature

This study was innovative for Kyrgyzstan - using participatory research methods and involving local communities in the study, not only as beneficiaries, but also partners, in order to describe as accurately and fully the traditional ways of distribution, use, management of pasture resources, dispute resolution and conservation of the ecosystem.

Communities of youth, pasture users, leaders, traditional knowledge holders and local researchers were involved in this study. This made it possible to establish schemes for the traditional use of pasture resources, their principles and elements, as well as to determine the expectations of various stakeholders regarding the solution of the issue of rational use of pasture resources.

RDF experts, under the guidance of the Research Coordinator, developed the research strategy and tools, and identified the sample. The main approach was that members of the community were actively involved in the research process, including youth. It was decided to use different methods for data collection and cross-checking.

Exhibition of traditional knowledge in the village. Kaiyndy

Analytical data obtained during the study, the best essays of schoolchildren, photographs, samples of plants and soil, an exhibition of national clothes were presented at an exhibition in the village of Kaiyndy. The RRF core group held interactive discussions in these villages, where local researchers, together with RDF experts, talked about the progress of the study, its results, interesting facts, acquired knowledge and skills, and will show the prepared exhibition in both communities. Volunteer researchers from one village presented their presentations in other villages to exchange experience and information. Traditional knowledge holders and other community members also took part and were actively involved in discussions about the significance of preserving traditional knowledge for their existence and the environment, the changes in the ecosystem that have been discovered, as well as the causes and consequences of these changes for them and the surrounding landscapes.

This phase of the project was of fundamental importance, as the communities of Kaiyndy and Tegirmenti were given the opportunity to look at themselves through the prism of traditional knowledge collected by members of their communities; reflect on positive and negative changes and discuss ways to solve existing problems in the use and management of pasture resources.

The RDF has made every effort to successfully reach this stage together with the two communities, and then to draw the attention of local and central government bodies to these problems and ways to solve them. On this day, a proposal was made to hold a Kok-Oirok Day holiday every summer, that is, a “Community Day”, when the community will meet, hold discussions and thematic discussions, exhibitions of clothes and utensils, games and hold other events to bring their community closer together .

Main results of the project

— Changing the attitude of the majority of the community towards traditional knowledge, both among the adult population and among young people. The community has come to realize that many aspects of traditional knowledge are important in our daily lives and animal husbandry, as it gives good results at low cost.

- Changing the attitude of the community in relation to the environment: pastures, forests, rivers, springs - from the attitude "no man's land" to the attitude "our land", which they must take care of and feel responsible for it.

— Community interest in continuing research on traditional knowledge and its use in everyday life.

— Community mobilization through the appreciation of traditional knowledge and its use to improve the environment and community welfare.
Traditional Knowledge