Pastoralist Knowledge Hub

Pastoralist organizations help plan Sahel initiative

Laying out a strategy for pastoral development

22/04/2016 -

Pastoralist organizations participated in the first high-level conference of the Regional Sahel Pastoralism Support Project (PRAPS) on 15-17 March in Dakar, Senegal. Together with other stakeholders, they drafted recommendations on planning and implementing activities of the PRAPS programme.

The 6-year, US$ 248 million World Bank-funded programme aims to improve pastoral development in the Sahel region. It focuses on Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Chad. PRAPS aims to tackle the most important challenges faced by pastoralists in the region: drought, animal diseases, climate change, conflicts and dwindling access to land and water resources. 

Over 130 representatives from international organizations, research institutes and civil society as well as government officials participated in the Dakar conference. The meeting aimed to give strategic guidance to the PRAPS programme planners and to exchange experiences on challenges and solutions for pastoral development.

Regional and national pastoral networks participated in the meeting; among them were three of the biggest networks representing livestock herders in West Africa: the Association pour la Promotion de l'Élevage en Savane et dans le Sahel (APESS), Réseau Billital Maroobé (RBM) and Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (ROPPA).

The meeting’s framework document identifies the lack of capacity of pastoralist organizations to seize opportunities as one of the major challenges for pastoral development. Their capacities have to be strengthened without their losing the cultural and social heritage of pastoralism.

The conference concluded that a multi-institutional approach is needed involving consultations and negotiations with stakeholders at different levels to plan and implement the programme’s actions. It is essential to map the concerned institutions and stakeholders. The participants recommended promoting transboundary cooperation, setting up a knowledge sharing and learning network, and resolving conflicts through local and institutional agreements.

“Pastoralism has been neglected for a long time in development policies, and the arrival of PRAPS helps to fully integrate it into national economies” stated Gregorio Gil Velasco, coordinator of FAO’s Pastoralist Knowledge Hub. “The participatory approach of PRAPS and the involvement of umbrella organizations is a way to facilitate the implementation of the project in countries and at the regional level.”

PRAPS is under the regional coordination of Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), and under the political leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).

PRAPS aims to improve the access to resources, production services and markets for pastoralists and agro-pastoralists along the transhumance routes and border areas of the six countries of the Sahel and to improve the capacities of these countries to respond promptly and effectively to emergencies. It is estimated that 2 million people will directly benefit from the programme.