Your terroir and my 'action space': Implications of differentiation, mobility and diversification for the approche terroir in Sahelian West Africa

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This article addresses the question of whether the aménagement/gestion de terroir approach, as it is currently being promoted by government and development organizations in the French-speaking countries of Sahelian West Africa, is compatible with the realists that agro-pastoralists in those countries face day-to-day. It is particularly concerned with three characteristics of life in the Sahel that have important implications for how agrarian populations manage resources, and whether the terroir approach, which aims ostensibly to increase the effectiveness of local-level natural resource management, addresses or fails to address these characteristics. First, the Sahel is characterized by considerable agro-ecological diversity and socio-economic differentiation. Second, Sahelian populations are often very mobile as a result of their efforts to deal with changing opportunities and constraints that affect their pursuit of a livelihood. And, third, Sahelian populations commonly use multiple strategies for risk management, including, but certainly not limited to, those which focus on the terroir villageois.


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Natural resource management, Agriculture, Pastoralism, Gestion du terroir, Ecosystem Farm/Enterprise Scale Field Scale


Africa 64(4)