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RPCA calls for action to address the critical pastoral situation

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The Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) organised a regional consultation on the critical pastoral situation in the Sahel on 21-23 February in Niamey. Fodder production is significantly lower compared to the five-year average, particularly in Mauritania (deficit of 95%) and Senegal (deficit of 80%). This has led to early cross-border transhumance and the risk of conflicts in host countries. Bringing together six Sahelian countries, the main host countries on the West African coast and development partners, the Network members made a series of recommendations to the region’s policy makers on how to address the crisis. The meeting was chaired by the Nigerien Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, with the facilitation of the Hub Rural and the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD). The analysis confirmed the early start of significant cross-border movements. Animal movements take place within Sahelian countries, from Sahelian to coastal countries and within coastal countries. For example, Senegal has recorded massive entries of Mauritanian herds since September 2017. Burkina Faso currently hosts about 150 000 animals from Mali and Niger. Benin recorded some 465 herds, including 33 000 bovines in January. This situation negatively impacts agricultural production in host countries and increases the risk of conflict between sedentary agricultural producers and transhumant agropastroalists. While response plans have already been elaborated in nearly all of the concerned countries, the funding gap is estimated at 75%. Moreover, discussions revealed that Sahelian countries’ reponse plans do not sufficiently take into account the needs of cross-border transhumants. Coastal countries (i.e. Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo), in turn, better anticipate the large number of seasonsal cattle flows that come into their countries, which helps improve host conditions and prevent conflicts. Other countries take protective measures that challenge the ECOWAS Protocol on the free movement of goods and people. The state of Benue in Nigeria, for example, has closed its borders to block transhumant movements. ECOWAS will hold an extra-ordinary ministerial comitee meeting on 27-29 March 2018 in Abuja, in order to address security issues related to transhumant pastoralism.