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Predevelopment survey: The initial stages


(*) D.J. Pratt, Principal Scientific Officer, Ministry of Overseas Development, Land Resources Division, Tolworth Tower, Surbiton, Surrey, UK.


A case is argued for the zoning of large tracts into discrete development areas as a prelude to more detailed development planning and survey. Criteria for such a zonation might include factors such as land potential and condition, population pressure and social-territorial organisation, water and wildlife resources, and accessibility. Two examples, one from Kenya and one from Mali, are used to show the application of the method.

Rangeland surveys that are designed to assist development planning or the implementation of chosen development strategies have particular relevance in Africa at this time. They are also among the more complex and costly of surveys. It is therefore of some importance that the surveys should be concentrated where they can do the most good, and that their format should reflect the particular needs of the area or areas concerned.

The concept of zoning rangeland into discrete development areas, and ultimately into development units, has been described elsewhere (see fn. 1). The purpose of this paper is to show how the concept can be applied in the initial stages of range development planning, in order to reduce vast areas and seemingly insurmountable problems to manageable proportions, and, in the process, to indicate priorities in survey. At present, the size of the problem often deters authorities from any action whatsoever, or results in surveys that are lacking in any specific focus.

The two illustrations presented relate, respectively, to Kenya and Mali. The example from Kenya dates from 1968, when the Kenya Range Management Division first sought to extend its development programme onto a comprehensive national scale. Fortunately there already existed a relatively good understanding of conditions in the range area, though there had been no attempt previously to synthesize this information into a framework for range development. The donation was based primarily on criteria of land potential, range condition, population pressure, the broader aspects of social-territorial organisation, water and wildlife resources, and accessibility. The result, as it applies to one sample district, is shown in Figure 1, with the original text appended.

In Mali, the same general approach was applied in 1974 in connection with the final appraisal of a livestock development project for the 5th Region. The result in this case is shown in Figure 2.

It is not suggested that the approach illustrated here is revolutionary; nor that its results are for more than limited use. Certainly it is not scientific: the manner in which areas are differentiated is too subjective for that. But it is suggested that a zonation into discrete development areas forms an almost essential prelude to development planning, by focusing on priorities and primary constraints and preventing piecemeal development without reference to the area at large (1).

(1) Pratt D.J. (1974): The concept of " discrete development areas" as applied to rangeland development. Rome: FAO.

Samburu District. The situation in Samburu is complex and the district is at present being subjected to a land-use survey. Although the Samburu are akin to the Masai, the sections (the major social groups) of Samburu district (with one exception) do not have distinct territorial claims, and grazing associations will be employed during the early stages of development (2).

(2) Grazing associations, a form of organisation designed for application where customary land rights are insufficiently well-defined to allow adjudication into group ranches, were not, as it transpired, used in the Kenya programme.

Carte n° 1 - The Samburu District, Kenya

The main areas are:

1. Turkana Grazing Areas, which lie along the western fringe of the district, where Turkana are in exclusive or partial possession of the land. (There are, for example, 3,000 Turkana on the Baragoi tax register). The exact boundary of the Turkana must be decided before development can proceed in this area.

2. Central Plains, generally arid and comprising:

2a. El Barta and Kowop, where the first grazing associations will be established;

2b. Barsaloi, which has some dense bushland and which probably will not be developed during the plan period;

2c. Seya-Barsalinga, which can probably be subdivided into three areas, and where one or two grazing associations are projected;

2d. Wamba, which has higher rainfall, and which must be considered for more intensive development; and

2e. Olowa Werkoi, which could be developed together with Barsalinga, but which must first be considered as a possible extension to Samburu Game Reserve (area 9).

3. Eastern Hill Ranges, comprising Mount Nyiro (3 a), the Ndotos (3b) and the Mathews Range (3 c), which constitute valuable adjuncts to areas 2 and 7 for dry-season grazing and which include areas of Forest Reserve. Plans for their long-term utilisation must be based on survey recommendations. Wages (3 d) could perhaps be made part of the Samburu Game Reserve (area 9).

4. Leroghi Hills, which constitute the area of highest potential in Samburu and which must be developed to the best benefit of the district at large on the basis of the completed land-use survey. The area is important for forestry, livestock, wildlife, and agriculture.

5. Ndorodo, which is the territorial area of one section and which will be developed for group ranching.

6. Leroghi Foothills, which are mostly under bushland thicket, except around Merti and Lodogojek, where the prospects for development will be investigated. One grazing association will probably result during the plan period.

7. East Ndotos and Mathews, which have hardly been utilised during recent years due to the security situation that has affected all of eastern Samburu. There are no immediate plans for development, though the area around Lolokwe (7a) should be considered as an adjunct to the Game Reserve (area 9).

8. Eastern Area, for which no immediate development plans exist. It could provide an overflow area when associations start in the Central Plains.

9. Samburu Game Reserve, which deserves to be expanded as indicated (2 e, 3 a and 7 a).

Carte n° 2 - The 5th Region of Mali

Mali: summary description of development areas in the 5th Region (first approximation)




Development Opportunities/Requirements



Vicinity of the regional capital; mostly in the inundated zone; high population pressure.

Development opportunities constrained by heavy pressure on land, strategy should be linked to the requirements of Mopti town (e.g. for milk).


Upper-Mid Delta

Main inundated zone, important for both rice cultivation and dry-season grazing.

Area critical to the livestock economy of the region; requires detailed survey to differentiate future crop and grazing areas and to develop strategy for maximizing forage potential.


Lower Delta

Partially inundated but including old dunelands.


West Delta Fringe

Belt of population pressure bordering the delta; largely cultivated.

Little spare land, but requires investigation to determine opportunities for utilizing shallow ground water for irrigation of crops and fodder.


NW Border

Belt of very arid country strategically situated between the Lower Delta and the 6th Region.

Of possible potential for water and range development to be evaluated in relation to neighbouring parts of the 6th Region.



Wet season grazing area of low and unreliable rainfall.

Present land-use to be maintained would benefit from new surface water supplies (following predevelopment survey).



Arid but partially settled area; also important transition zone between wet and dry season grazing areas.

Relatively overgrazed and with few apparent development opportunities; facilities for migratory herds need to be maintained.


SW Dioura

Relatively under-utilised area, arid and partially under bush but possibly of some potential for agriculture.

Requires careful survey to differentiate opportunities for settlement and for holding cattle on migration to the delta.


East Delta Fringe

As 4, but also a migration route for cattle moving N and S to and from the delta.

As 4.


Bandiagara Plateau

Sandstone plateau relatively densely settled by cultivators (also transit zone for delta-Gondo cattle).

To be developed for the resident population; critical area agriculturally but not of high priority for livestock development.



Outlier of 10; of considerable scenic value.

Primarily for development for resident population (with some tourism).



Main migration corridor for cattle W of the delta; but also occasionally cultivated.

To be kept open for migratory herds, with surface water development if feasible to hold cattle before entry to delta.


Lake Korarou

Area strategically situated between the delta and Gourma stock routes and grazing areas.

Requires survey to determine water and range potential before further action is decided; could have high development potential.


Lake Niangay

Very arid area, but closely associated with Lake Niangay and inundated grasslands.

As 5 (though relatively less accessible).


West Gourma

Wet season grazing area of low and unreliable rainfall; integral part of the Gourma of the 6th Region.

Present land-use to be maintained and developed by new surface water supplies (especially to hold cattle longer en route to the delta).


NE Border

As 15.

Of uncertain but presumed low potential, to be evaluated in relation to neighbouring parts of the 6th Region.



Complex area, partially settled, partially grazed and partially under bush; not greatly used by herds from delta.

Requires survey and subdivision before development opportunities/requirements can be stated; an area of medium-low priority.


Seno Mango

Under-utilised wet season grazing area on consolidated dunes with known ground water resources.

Good opportunities for controlled grazing and possibly settlement in association with ground water development; requires detailed planning.


East Seno Mango

Natural extension of 18, but of less certain ground water potential and less easy to administer.

For survey and possible development, following development of 18.


South Gondo

Area of moderate rainfall mostly under cultivation/grazing: horders Upper Volta.

For integrated agricultural/livestock development: some herds from this area are likely to be accommodated in the Seno Mango (18).


West Gondo

Mostly consolidated sand-dunes, partially cultivated; is subject to population overflow from 10.

Presumably agriculture will predominate, but survey and further subdivision is needed.



"High rainfall" area of the Gondo (700 mm), mostly cultivated; borders Upper Volta.

Primarily for agricultural development, but perhaps with opportunities (to be evaluated) for ranching.

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