Resource Management and Pastoral Institution Building in the West African Sahel

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Washington, D.C.: World Bank


The study reviews experiences in the formation of pastoral institutions in government-sponsored, World Bank-assisted development projects in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal, with the particular objective of assessing their potential as custodians of natural resources and participants in sustainable resource management. In each case, the programme for pastoral organization and training was one component of a multi-component development project with a broader focus on 'livestock' or 'agriculture'. This report is based on project documents, recent literature on issues pertaining to pastoralism and natural resources management in the Sahel, and fieldwork in the countries concerned. A major constraint was the lack of basic data on the formation and performance of pastoral organizations (POs) in any of the four projects. None of the projects had a proper monitoring and evaluation system for the PO component. Efforts to collect quantitative data on POs when they were visited in the course of fieldwork were limited by the absence of records and lack of time. Sandford's definition (1983) is followed: pastoralists derive most of their income or sustenance from keeping domestic livestock in conditions where most of the feed eaten by their livestock is natural forage, not cultivated fodders and pastures. In its broader sense 'pastoralism' refers to the way of life of pastoralists, their socioeconomic institutions and land-use systems. The definition adopted here covers 'pure' pastoralism, and other mixed forms in which the pastoral component is dominant, for example agro-pastoralism and agro-sylvo-pastoralism. 'Pastoral organizations' (POs) is used as a generic term to cover all types of institutional arrangements that regulate individual and collective actions by pastoralists to safeguard and promote their economic, social, cultural, and political interests. The findings indicate that the formation and operation of pastoral associations must still be regarded as a pilot development activity, although valuable lessons and recommendations can be deduced, even at this early stage. The challenge now is to incorporate these lessons and recommendations in the design of future projects that aim to establish viable sustainable pastoral institutions and resource management activities. (CAB Abstract)


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Rural development, Natural resource management, Livestock, Farming systems, Pastoralism, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sahel, Livestock farming, Resource management, Governance


World Bank Discussion Papers: Africa Technical Department Series No. 175, 1992