Phate is 29 years old and has been a herder since he was 7 years old. He would tend to his animals in between attending lessons at the combined primary-secondary school in his village. When he completed high school, he decided that his talents were better applied to growing his wealth. Phate was so gifted at rearing animals that by then he had accumulated enough stock to deem it fit to stop looking after his family’s lot. He enjoyed the simplicity of the highlands and going out to pasture, and felt that he had acquired enough basic knowledge during his years at school to manage and grow his material needs without needing much else. All he needed to do was get himself a wife and start a family, and so he did.
Over the years, he began to notice a strange turn during his excursions into the wilderness. For one, it was taking a little longer for the grass to turn green because the rains were delayed. In fact, even some of the wild fruit and vegetables he enjoyed started growing in isolated patches, as opposed to the abundance he enjoyed when he was younger. At first, he attributed the changes to the fact that his nature was to graze his animals in different places: each season came with something new, he thought, so he continued about his life. But after some time, the trend began to occur more frequently.
Phate’s wealth had grown consistently over the years and was little affected by the changes. This was until a period when it became increasingly hard to feed and nourish them, while the weakest ones died. Spring came and went, then summer, intense winds and heat, but no rains in sight. Rivers dried up and what little grass there was, was too brown and meagre to sustain the animals. Phate thought to sell off some of his sheep to buy animal feed from the store while nature recovered. However, he learned rather quickly that he was not the only one thinking in that manner, and that there was actually a crisis at play.
The year after that was no different, and the next. “This could not be the hand of God!” he concluded. So after listening to a radio segment on the issue, he decided to get more informed via the internet, with the help of his daughter. Phate was more interested in solutions: What could he do? Since he was already a proponent of rotational grazing based on what he had learned at school, he campaigned to his fellow herders to graze pastures in groupings versus solo herding, herd certain pastures according to animal breed and rotate seasonally and annually. He also appealed to his chief to convince villagers at large to stop burning grass in the winter because it weakened the soil and caused erosion. His efforts paid off and they were able to mitigate the frustrations of previous years.