Nomadic Herders Project Visits Iengra and Khatystyr, Sakha (Yakutia)

February 25, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Nomadic Herders, Projects

Last week, Mikhail Pogodaev, Anna Degteva, Svein Mathiesen and Bjorn Alfthan headed south to visit potential areas of focus for the Nomadic Herders’ GEF project. We were accompanied by Anatoly Grigorjev, Director of the Union of Indigenous Obschinas of the Republic of Sakha, who knows first hand the issues and challenges facing reindeer herders’ in the region.

After a brief stop in Neryungri to discuss the project with the Head and Vice-Head of Neryungri District, we made our way to Iengra, a village 60 km south of Neryungri. There we had our first consultation meeting with reindeer herders and administrators of the village, to discuss the project and gather feedback on priorities for the project. After Pogodaev presented the primary concepts of the project, we covered many topics related to reindeer herding, land use change and biodiversity. Priorities emerging from the discussions included the need for dialogue with industry on land use issues; significant problems with wolf predation; and how to engage youth into the future.

Being in the heart of one of Russia’s largest “megaproject” regions, it was becoming clear that a key priority for the Nomadic Herders GEF project in southern Sakha (Yakutia) will be to enhance the dialogue between reindeer herders and industry, and to seek ways for reindeer herders and industry to continue living side-by-side in what is one of the world’s major growth areas for mineral extraction and industrial development.


Whilst in Neryungri, we had the chance to visit the Arctic School, a boarding school for indigenous peoples of the Russian North. We heard a striking song from a young Chukchi student during the school performances we were privileged to be a part of. Mikhail Pogodaev again had the chance to present the project to the students, and many of the students from reindeer herding families were very keen to become involved.


Many of the themes discussed in Iengra re-emerged on visiting Khatystyr, an Evenki village located in the Aldan District, about 500 km south of Yakutsk. During our consultations with reindeer herders and the village administration, we used maps of the area as a way to explore some of the past and present changes to reindeer husbandry, land use and biodiversity.


Clearly there are many opportunities for the project to be engaged in these areas in the future!


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