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Institutional design, informal practices and international conflict: The case of community-based pasture management in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border region

Pastoralism. 2019;9(1):1-12 DOI 10.1186/s13570-019-0145-9


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Pastoralism

ISSN: 2041-7136 (Online)

Publisher: SpringerOpen

Society/Institution: World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism IUCN; Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Climate Change and Drylands; Odessa Centre UK

LCC Subject Category: Agriculture: Animal culture

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Gulzana Kurmanalieva (Naryn State University named after S.Naamatov)

Wibke Crewett (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 13 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Abstract In the Kyrgyz Region of Ferghana Valley, violent conflict flares repeatedly between the local Kyrgyz majority population and the Tajik ethnic minority. Drawing on a recent qualitative case study conducted in the borderlands of one of the two Tajik enclaves within the Kyrgyz Batken Region, this article seeks to identify the causes of pasture-related inter-ethnic conflict in the agro-pastoral Kyrgyz–Tajik border region. The paper employs an institutional perspective and explores the impact of the given institutional setup. We note that a lack of institutional arrangements for transboundary pasture use hinders Tajik herders’ legal access to the region’s sole summer pastures. The Kyrgyz “Pasture Committee” has pragmatically designed local rules on transboundary pasture use in the Kyrgyz–Tajik border region, thereby assuring Tajik herders at least semi-official access to the summer pastures. Yet while these rules limit conflict, they fail to limit overstocking. Locally designed rules also open up business opportunities to Tajik herders, which some of the Kyrgyz herders consider unfair and illegal. In order to achieve sustainable and locally accepted regional pasture management, despite the lack of legislative amendments and international agreements, we propose local-level institutional innovations. We also emphasize that pasture use regulation is paramount for maintaining regional stability and peaceful cooperation.