On April 26th, in Abuja, the ECOWAS member states' respective ministers of Security and Livestock met to discuss pastoralism and transhumance in the region. During this meeting, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission and Philippe Chedanne, Regional Director for the greater Sahel area at AFD, signed the subsidy agreement for the Integrated and Sustainable Livestock Farming and Pastoralism in West Africa Project (PEPISAO).
This program reflects the main challenges the region faces in terms of food security and conflict prevention. It aims to promote strategic cooperation within the region where issues such as conflict, food security and the effects of climate change are more relevant than ever. It also demonstrates the ECOWAS countries' intention to promote more inclusive and effective regulations concerning the region's agro-pastoral activities.
Food for thought on livestock farming in the Sahel
Improving regulations requires a clear and shared perception of pastoralism. In this context, the PEPISAO project aims to better understand agro-pastoral activities, how they evolve and the social relationships involved in different types of livestock farming. The project uses new monitoring tools to report on local disputes between farmers, and nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists. It also aims to offer training in conflict prevention to local project managers and to make the region's livestock farmers aware of the legal options available when non-conventional rules are no longer sufficient.
The ECOWAS will work to make this sector more resilient to climate change and population growth. This will help to anticipate and defuse disagreements which can lead to conflict.
Closer cooperation within the region
There are numerous conflicts affecting West Africa and access to resources is one of the causes. These increasingly limited resources are being disputed amidst the combined effects of climate change, land privatization and population growth. There are tacit agreements regulating the relations between the different actors in this area. However, these agreements are becoming less and less capable of maintaining the status quo and do not always manage to prevent violence from escalating.
For AFD, the cross-border nature of these agro-pastoral issues justifies the need for closer and more effective cooperation in the region. In the long term, reinforcing regulation of agro-pastoral activity in the region could benefit millions. The activity would become more profitable, better equipped to face nutritional and environmental challenges and to deal with the root cause of certain sources of conflict.
For the ECOWAS, by looking beyond the competition regarding resources and conflicts, Sahelian and coastal countries could define a regional approach to developing livestock farming in which pastoral sustainability, well-managed transhumances and better structured transnational sectors would benefit everyone. This is what we should be aiming for.