Pastoralism in dryland areas

A case study in sub-Saharan Africa

Issue 9 60 pp. • Published in January 2013

Author(s): Toutain Bernard, Marty André, Bourgeot André, Ickowicz Alexandre, Lhoste Philippe

Often barren natural rangelands are directly utilized for pastoral livestock farming, which is by nature mobile (transhumance). This activity is on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa, providing a living for a great number of herders, generating marketable animal products, while also supporting pastoral-oriented societies.

Pastoral livestock farming prevails especially in dry tropical regions. The livestock farming techniques are continuously adjusted to adapt to extremely variable local conditions, i.e. the spatial distribution of resources (fodder, water) or sanitary, social and economic situations. Pastoralism is a source of meat, even for export, and has an important role in the agricultural economy of Sahelian countries. This activity enhances social stabilization and peace in marginal dryland areas.

Pastoralism is becoming difficult in sub-Saharan Africa despite these advantages, especially due to the recent worsening of climatic conditions. Collective rangeland grazing rights are not legally recognized and protected sufficiently to stave off the problem of crop farming expansion and landgrabbing by investors. Sub-Saharan pastoralism has considerably evolved to cope with this situation—increase in transhumance into new areas, partial settling of herding families and income diversification.

Cattle grazing modifies the long-term evolution of rangeland ecosystems (soil, vegetation, biodiversity), but these impacts also have some advantages (soil fertility transfer, seed dispersal, maintenance of natural environments). Environmental degradation, which in extreme cases leads to desertification, is usually the result of localized overtapping of resources or poor management. The causes of this degradation must be assessed since it is ultimately detrimental to pastoralism.

The conditions required for sustainable pastoralism generally depend on the public policies of each concerned country and current legislation. Professional pastoral farmers are getting organized and international organizations are beginning to take stock of the economic and ecological challenges concerning pastoralism for the future.

    Toutain Bernard

    Toutain Bernard

    Agropastoralist, ex-CIRAD (France)

    Marty André

    Marty André

    Sociopastoralist, ex-IRAM (France)

    Bourgeot André

    Bourgeot André

    Anthropologist, CNRS (France)

    Ickowicz Alexandre

    Ickowicz Alexandre

    Senior Scientist CIRAD, UMR SELMET, Veterinary and Animal (...)

    Lhoste Philippe

    Lhoste Philippe

    Animal scientist, ex-CIRAD (France)


    Pastoralisme en zone sèche

    Dossier du CSFD 9  •  2012

    Pastoralisme en zone sèche

    Le cas de l’Afrique subsaharienne

Support

Editing, production and distribution of Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD are fully supported by this Committee thanks to the support of relevant French Ministries and AFD (French Development Agency).

  • Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche
  • Ministère des Affaires étrangères
  • Ministère de l’Écologie, du Développement durable et de l’Énergie
  • Agence Française de Développement (AFD)

Opinions

The opinions expressed in these reports are endorsed by the Committee.

Contact

CSFD
Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification
Agropolis International
1000 avenue Agropolis
F-34394 Montpellier CEDEX 5 •  France
Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 04 75 44 • email: csfd@agropolis.fr




Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification

CSFD
Agropolis International
1000 avenue Agropolis
F-34394 Montpellier CEDEX 5 •  France
Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 04 75 44 • email: csfd@agropolis.fr

Log in

Log in


Website: Olivier Piau (Agropolis Productions)
© 2013 Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification (CSFD)

Dossiers

thématiques du CSFD

Mankind is now confronted with an issue of worldwide concern, i.e. desertification, which is both a natural phenomenon and a process induced by human activities. Our planet and natural ecosystems have never been so degraded by our presence. Long considered as a local problem, desertification is now a global issue of concern to all of us, including scientists, decision makers, citizens from both developed and developing countries. Within this setting, it is urgent to boost the awareness of civil society to convince it to get involved. People must first be given the elements necessary to better understand the desertification phenomenon and the concerns. Everyone should have access to relevant scientific knowledge in a readily understandable language and format.

Within this scope, the French Scientific Committee on Desertification (CSFD) has decided to launch a series entitled Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD, which is designed to provide sound scientific information on desertification, its implications and stakes. This series is intended for policy makers and advisers from developed and developing countries, in addition to the general public and scientific journalists involved in development and the environment. It also aims at providing teachers, trainers and trainees with additional information on various associated disciplinary fields. Lastly, it endeavours to help disseminate knowledge on the combat against desertification, land degradation, and poverty to stakeholders such as representatives of professional, nongovernmental, and international solidarity organisations.

These Dossiers are devoted to different themes such as global public goods, remote sensing, wind erosion, agroecology, pastoralism, etc, in order to take stock of current knowledge on these various subjects. The goal is also to outline debates around new ideas and concepts, including controversial issues; to expound widely used methodologies and results derived from a number of projects; and lastly to supply operational and academic references, addresses and useful websites. These Dossiers are to be broadly circulated, especially within the countries most affected by desertification, by email, through our website, and in print. Your feedback and suggestions will be much appreciated!

Scientific editing and iconography: Isabelle Amsallem, Agropolis Productions
Design and production: Olivier Piau, Agropolis Productions