Kenyan media accused of stereotyping pastoralism

Kenyan media accused of stereotyping pastoralism

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has slammed Kenyan media for its stereotyping coverage of pastoralism, saying pastoralists contribute substantially to food security, livelihoods and economic prosperity, and can increase resilience to climate change.

“Policy narratives portray pastoralism as an outdated practice, and the media stories that help shape policy processes and public opinion often contribute to these false portrayals,” IIED spokesperson Mike Shanahan said, wondering why policymakers, donors and the public at large did not appreciate its benefits.

The trend is the same in countries such as India and China, according to a recent study conducted by the London-based IIED.  Shanahan said the study identified significant knowledge gaps and inter-country differences in how journalists perceive and portray pastoralists and pastoralism.

Media outlets in these countries also underreport climate change, the economic value of pastoralism and the links between pastoralist mobility and resilience, he said.

“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,” he urged.

*Photo by the Guardian.co.uk. Kenya’s Maasai pastoralists.

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