Reducing Enteric Methane for improving food security and livelihoods

West Africa

  • In West Africa, livestock is a key economic sector, contributing to a large proportion of the agricultural GDP (up to 49% in Mali). It is an important source of income and livelihoods, particularly for the most vulnerable communities and within the most fragile ecosystems.
  • Within the dairy cattle herd, 8.6 million milking females produce 1.3 billion liters of milk each year. Milk production has grown by 4.6% per annum on average during the past decade; however, the growth of the sector is insufficient to respond to the even greater increase in demand for dairy products which is projected to reach 370% between 2012 and 2050.
  • The local, pastoral and agropastoral production systems are adapted to harsh environments with scarce natural resources and they provide a wide range of goods and services beyond food production, both socio-economic (e.g. income generation, transport, savings, insurance, cultural value) and environmental (e.g. nutrient cycling, encroachment and fire regulation, maintenance of landscapes, habitats and genetic resources).
  • Seasonality strongly affects the quality and availability of feed resources and is an important challenge faced by livestock production. Transhumance and the diversification of feed resources have been traditional coping strategies adopted by pastoral and agropastoral production systems but seasonality remains an important constraint for milk productivity. 
  •  Further improving the ability of pastoral and agropastoral systems to address seasonality will be key as climate change will aggravate seasonal and inter-annual variability in rainfall, as well as the frequency of extreme events such as drought.

The dairy sector in West Africa: socio-economic importance and resilience



1) FAOSTAT (2013). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.

2) USADA (2014) Agricultural situation in Benin. GAIN report. Lagos. Ickowicz, A., Ancey, V.,  Corniaux, C., Duteurtre, G., Poccard-Chappuis, R., Touré, I, Vall E., & Wane A. 2012. Crop–livestock production systems in the Sahel – increasing resilience for adaptation to climate change and preserving food security. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.




* Sylla, M.B, Nikieme, P.M., Gibba, P., Kebe, I., & Browne Klutse, N.A. (2016). Climate Change over West Africa: Recent Trends and Future Projections. DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-31499-0_3. Dunning, C. M., Black, E., & Allan, R. P. (2018). Later Wet Seasons with More Intense Rainfall over Africa under Future Climate Change. Journal of Climate, 31(23), 9719-9738.