Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rehabilitating land to decrease conflict with pastorlists

During my last year trip to Burkina Faso, I visited a community in Thiou, North West of Ouahigouya.

I was welcomed by Sa Majeste, the head of the community for a courtesy visit and present the Livestock and Fish Research program I am working on. He is also involved with the the "Association pour la Promotion de l'Elevage au Sahel et en Savane (APESS)" a very active organization around the support of smallholder livestock keepers. 

The head of the community and some representative of the community
Like many other communities around, they are cropping on some lands. When the dry season comes and fodder for livestock becomes short, they go on transhumances. Some men in each family will take their cattle South in the search for fodder. They take small ruminants (goats and sheep) with them, to sell on the way and get money meet their daily needs.
It is a very innovative community that has been testing different fodder for their cattle, trying on the one hand to reduce their own need to go on transhumance and on the other hand to make sure that other pastoralists coming from the North passing their land find sufficient fodder, so that no conflict emerges on on cropped land.

Testing various fodder crops including soya
On their communal land (basically owned by the head of the community), the community tries to rehabilitated degraded land. This land was quite unproductive but with smart rainwater management, biomass is now growing and can be used as fodder.
The result of rainwater management, grasses are starting to grow in areas
The community envisions that when the grass will grow plenty, then they will perceive a fee from any pastoralist who wants to stay and use the area to feed his animals. This fee will allow to cover the costs of rehabilitating the land. The area will also insure drinking points.

In order to avoid the spreading of animal diseases, there is also a vaccination park, where animals can get vaccinated efficiently.

vaccination park
The area around Thiou should become one of the zones where pastoralists are welcome within fixed boundaries and will find sufficient fodder and water along the Mali-Ghana transhumance route. In this way, conflict between pastoralist and cropping communities can be reduced.

I was impressed to discover this area and its people who believe in a peaceful pastoralism that benefits smallholders.

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