Uplifting Nomadic Communities

Uplifting Nomadic CommunitiesUplifting Nomadic Communities

Empowerment of rural and nomadic communities is one of the key factors to attain sustainable development, said Hormozgan Province Governor Jasem Jaderi, addressing the provincial Nomadic Council.

Calling on the relevant authorities to join forces to uplift rural ethnic and nomadic populations, he pointed out that “these self-sufficient communities” contribute to 26% of the gross domestic product (GDP), meet 70% of the country’s dairy and livestock requirements and provide employment to 25% of the population.

Nomadic people constitute 2% of the population (about 1.2 million) and play a crucial role in the economy and production sector. Nomadic tribes own 24 million head of cattle (25% of the total), and produce more than 20% of the domestic protein needs.

But the nomadic population also appears to be slowly lured by the appeal of city life.

According to the 2011 census, around 72% of the population lives in urban and 28% in rural areas. Jaderi said the population influx from rural to urban areas is not beneficial for the national economy.   

“As a result of the fast process of urbanization, the villages and nomadic societies are being abandoned and outlying areas in large cities are seeing the growth of more slums and consequently poverty which will only contribute to social harm,” he warned, urging for swift action to stop the trend.

Karamali Qandali, head of the Iranian Nomad Organization, said the responsibility of the INO is to provide services for nomadic communities so that they continue with their traditional lifestyle. Nevertheless, the INO has so far helped 90,000 nomads with jobs and permanent settlements.

The official stressed that providing services for nomadic societies needs intersectoral cooperation “since they have the needs of both the rural and urban communities.”

Nomads are largely self-sufficient and according to various surveys, unemployment in their ranks is in the range of 4%.

Although the quality of their life has improved over the past few years with their human development index (a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income per capita indicators), reaching satisfactory levels, several organizations still fail to include this strata of the population in their agendas and programs, said Jaderi.

 Social Insurance  

Qandali, however, pointed to the advancements of nomadic populations in the present administration. He said 55,000 from among the 213,000 nomadic families are currently covered by social security insurance. The Supreme Council of Nomads which was suspended for 10 years was reactivated in 2014.

The annual budget for nomads which was 200 billion rials ($5.7 million) in 2014 has now increased to 830 billion rials ($23.7 million). Also, nomads were not entitled to bank facilities, but over the past three years, a total of 18 trillion rials ($514 million) have been provided for them in the form of loans.

Pastoral farmers have been given 500,000 tons of animal feed in the past two years and over 570 billion rials ($16.2 million) have been allocated by the government to empower NGOs active in nomad affairs.  

Hormozgan is a leading province with a large number of rural and nomadic populations that comprise half of the provincial residents.  

According to the latest census, 20,000 nomads make their journeys across the province plus groups from Kerman and Fars provinces who reside there temporarily. Besides, 10% of the province’s meat products and handicrafts are produced by them.  

Naser Heidaripour, head of Hormozgan’s Agricultural Jihad Organization, said that nomads boost the national employment rate and production, and deserve to be provided with support in terms of education, hygiene, security and housing.

The nomadic tribes in Iran are of several ethnic origins: Turks, Turkmans, Kurds, Lurs, Arabs and Baluchis. One of the most well-known nomadic groups is the Qashqai, which is a kind of tribal conglomeration of different ethnic groups. They mainly live in the provinces of Fars, especially around the city of Shiraz and Firuzabad, Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad,  Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, Bushehr and southern Isfahan.

Nomads move according to the seasons, heading north in summer and south in winter, sometimes covering a distance of almost 5,000 miles along the nomadic routes with around 70 stops on the way.