Land Tenure Journal, No 2 (2011)

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Governance of pastoral tenure and climate change in the Sahel. Reinforce capacities of actors to secure mobility and fair access to pastoral resources

Bernard Bonnet, Dominique Hérault


In the Sahel, livestock farming holds  first place  in agricultural production ahead of agriculture that is over-exposed to hazards. Through their capacity to adapt to the unforeseen, the pastoral societies are undoubtedly vulnerable, but also resilient. Often little supported by public policies, the pastoralists have constantly modernised their systems of mobility by adapting to new constraints encountered and by integrating a number of innovations. Despite  such an advantage, these modes of exploitation based on mobility have, for a  long time, been considered inappropriate, the priority being given to settlements and intensification of practices.

When the principal climatic models in the Sahel are in harmony with increased exceptional climatic conditions there is a convergence of public policies in favour of securing the tenure systems and the pastoralists’ rights. However, in Niger where the legal framework is one of the most favourable, it is still little applied. Therefore, approaches to secure pastoral tenure at communal and intercommunal levels have been developed by mobilising actors of governance of tenure in the implementation of a strategy to secure transhumance and to manage pastoral wells in equitable manner. Securing pastoral tenure thus reinforces the dynamics of pastoral societies facing the challenges of climate change and demographic pressure. It also  raises the question of limitations and other issues.

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