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).