Livestock rearing, pastoralism and pastoral water works

Iram started working on pastoral water supplies in the 1970s, and has since progressively incorporated other aspects of sustainable pastoral development into its interventions in this field: access to resources, health, education and markets, land rights, multi-actor consultations, adaptation to climate change, pastoral resilience and improving public policies.

Safeguarding people and their livestock

Mobile pastoral livestock rearing (transhumance) is particularly well suited to the drylands of sub-Saharan Africa. Pastoralism is a key activity in these regions as it not only contributes to the food security of pastoralists and their families, but also provides the animal products that keep the wheels of the agricultural economy turning. In certain countries, especially in the Sahel, most exported products are generated by livestock systems. Human and livestock mobility is therefore essential for the social, economic and environmental viability of pastoral livestock systems in these regions.

However, herders face increasing challenges due to worsening climatic crises, growing pressure from agriculture, lack of recognition for collective rights to livestock routes, and inappropriate policies. Insecurity in pastoral areas of Mali, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon and other countries add to a list of constraints that limit access to pastoral resources (livestock routes and water) and threaten practices that are central to transhumance.

In this context, securing pastoral systems and safeguarding human and herd mobility are crucial issues for pastoralism in these regions. The sector needs better public policies on pastoral development and more efficient infrastructures (wells, markets, slaughterhouses, etc.). Putting these in place requires multi-actor consultations at the local and regional levels (building social agreements, marking out transhumance routes, involving herders in different bodies), and herder participation in national and sub-regional policy formulation to ensure that their rights are respected (supporting herder networks and defining pastoral policies).

Iram’s approach

Iram’s support for sustainable pastoralism focuses on:

  • studying the practices that herders and social organisations use to manage agro-pastoral systems, negotiate rights and build social agreements;
  • strengthening herder representatives’ capacity to negotiate with local authorities, supporting consultative bodies, securing pastoral lands and facilitating social management of water structures to limit conflicts;
  • securing herd mobility and managing the negative ecological impacts of livestock (overgrazing): constructing and rehabilitating water points and pools, facilitating negotiations and demarcating selected transhumance corridors and rest areas;
  • improving public policies on pastoral development: facilitating public dialogue at the national and sub-regional levels, designing and implementing programmes, helping formulate strategies and regulatory texts.