Pastoralism was long considered an archaic practice. But recent findings show that pastoral systems can take advantage of the instability characteristic of arid ecosystems and benefit from their considerable potential. The economic performance of pastoralism has been studied more in depth and is more recognized. Politicians are becoming aware of the importance of mobility for development and security in the Sahel countries. The example of Chad provides an interesting perspective: the long history and geographical scale of AFD actions (20 years, over more than 450,000 km² in that country) enable an in-depth analysis of the relationship between pastoralism and development in the Sahelian context.
The objectives were threefold: to evaluate the relevance and coherence of all the AFD actions, to assess the performance of projects providing support to pastoral water development, and to propose strategies for continuing the process.
The analysis of the actions was made by putting into perspective evolutions in the pastoralism-related paradigms implemented over time. An approach to pastoral systems that was simultaneously societal, economic and ecological was used for this analysis. As part of this exercise, the local stakeholders gave their opinions in Chad during three “planning scenario” workshops. This evaluation was carried out by a team of researchers and consultants from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
The exchanges confirmed the crucial importance of issues related to water and mobility in the concerns of local stakeholders. Ideas were identified to improve the approaches to these issues. The evaluation observed that the AFD actions worked towards making mobility better understood and secured. The AFD projects played a decisive role in helping to create political and institutional spaces to manage the conflicts. Knowledge production and national capacity building have also been a significant gain from these actions. The founding principle of the approach was that water is free: this played an important role by limiting the risks of appropriation and exclusion that can come from payment for water. Priority use of water for pastoral usage was thus respected. However, the sustainability of the installations seems to be the weak link in the approach in terms of monitoring, maintenance and management.
- Third-generation projects should be designed, putting four types of projects into interaction: pastoral water development, inclusion of pastoral production systems in the development of Lake Fitri, institutional support to state and non-state stakeholders, and research-action projects (in education, healthcare and financial services). These projects should moreover be carried out on a broader scale geographically and over the long term, in order to encourage integration and increase the productivity of both farming and livestock systems.
- The sustainability of pastoral infrastructure should be improved, in terms of financing, maintenance, management bodies, and governance.
- AFD’s commitment should be intensified in the reorientation of national and sub-regional policies.
- The production and sharing of knowledge should be optimized, by promoting innovations in research-action and in making the knowledge gained operational.
- The entire AFD approach should be adopted by supporting pastoralism within a transborder perspective, with the issues of climate change and of the security of transborder economic exchanges included in the approach.