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the Land sustainably

Pastoral livestock farming in Senegal has both environmental and economic benefits

Moussa Balde, head of AVSF's activities in Senegal

What is the place of pastoral livestock farming in the Sahel?

The Senegalese herdsmen have developed a way of operating that is well suited to this restrictive environment, scarce in resources. Pastoral mobility is the only way to utilize, maintain, and protect these areas, which are characterized by their fragility and their low potential for production. In these arid and semi-arid zones, mobile pastoral livestock farming remains the most competitive system, both economically and ecologically. This system provides enough water and fodder to meet the needs of the animals, ensuring maximum production at a minimal cost. At the same time, the system makes it possible to utilize resources that otherwise could not be exploited. This mode of livestock farming depends on one extremely important factor: the know-how of the livestock farmers. However, these transhumant livestock farmers are often implicated to just a very small extent in rural- and social-development programs.

What are some of the limiting factors for smallholders today?

After the dry spells in the 1970s and 1980s, fodder has been highly degraded in the Ferlo region (a sylvo-pastoral zone in northern Senegal), both quantitatively and by the disappearance of certain plant species. The climate threats weighing on pastoral livestock farmers have been exacerbated by demographic growth, competition with non-nomadic farmers for access to water and land, and poor distribution of fodder within the region. The growing instability of the rain cycles is making it more difficult to predict how much water and fodder will be available.

What can be done?

Within the framework of a partnership between the Matam region in Senegal and the Rhône-Alpes region in France, AVSF has been working with livestock farmers since 2008 to help them improve the way they manage both space and resources (water and fodder) by implementing the pastoral-units system. A pilot activity was launched in 2012 to try to improve livestock farmers' access to information regarding resources and constraints (fire, epidemics).

Learn more about AVSF's activities in Sénégal [SENEGAL]