Managing Resources in Erratic Environments: An Analysis of Pastoralist Systems in Ethiopia, Niger, and Burkina Faso

Although 22 percent of land in sub-Saharan Africa is arid or semiarid rangeland, development policies have long been biased toward crop agriculture. In the wake of the Green Revolution, international and national agricultural research institutions focused on crop systems and plant breeding. As a result, the customary tenure arrangements that enabled pastoralists to move their livestock from one grazing ground to another fell out of favor. As climate-related crises and desertification have spiraled, however, research and policy interest in rangeland management issues have been renewed. As part of its strategy to seek policies for the efficient functioning of global food systems, IFPRI has been in the forefront of this research. In the 1990s, as part of a shared CGIAR initiative on property rights and collective action, IFPRI, in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute, began work on a project called “Property Rights, Risk, and Livestock Development,” with a focus on rangeland systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The research on resource management conducted for this report in three drought-prone countries of sub-Saharan Africa—Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Niger—is related to that work. This study analyzes the links between risk and the kinds of property rights that have evolved to provide the mobility needed to raise livestock where rainfall fluctuates, and it evaluates the impact of cooperation on resource management in these environments. Three interesting conclusions emerge from the analyses with respect to economic vulnerability and natural resource management in these environments. First, there is little evidence of dramatic misuse of land resources by herders; rather, evidence suggests that overstocking, limited herd mobility, and encroachment of farmland on common pastures vary a good deal both within and across countries. Second, stock densities are lower precisely in areas with very high rainfall variability, whereas herd mobility is strongly related to recent rainfall patterns. Finally, greater cooperative capacity significantly reduces grazing pressure on home resources. While it remains a challenge for policymakers to design and implement mechanisms to increase cooperative capacities, this research points to the scope for such action.

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0-89629-138-3 (Other)
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Research Report

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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