Towards peaceful cross-border transhumance
Livestock experts from across 17 countries of the ECOWAS-UEMOA-CILSS area gathered from 7-10 October 2019 in Accra at the 6th high-level meeting on the theme, “Peaceful transhumance and livestock mobility in the Sahel and West African coastal countries.” Civil society organisations approved a joint position statement with key recommendations on how to develop the livestock sector and pastoralism in the context of rising insecurity in the region. The fodder production outlook for 2020 is good overall. However, there are deficit production areas, notably in western Mali, western Mauritania and northern Senegal. There are also persistent difficulties in accessing natural pasture areas due to insecurity in parts of Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. This situation could affect the livelihoods in those regions and lead to early departures of livestock and pastoralists to areas of transhumance, with consequences in both transit and host areas. On a positive note, awareness raising and dialogue between farmers and pastoralists, as well as closer collaboration between local, national and regional authorities, is helping to prevent conflict and reduce the number of casualities related to intra-regional livestock mobility. National transhumance committees were successfully supported in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The introduction of taxes as livestock entered markets created significant financial resources for local authorities in coastal countries, enabling them to invest in socio-educational and health infrastructure. Civil society organisations recommend: better synchronization of transhumance calendars in different countries; the acceleration of the establishment of national transhumance committees in Sahelian countries; and the assessment of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of pastoralism. They stressed that more analysis is needed about the consequences of insecurity on the early migration of pastoralists and on cattle concentration. They also recommend strengthening capacities of farmers’ organisations in coastal countries by raising awareness of pastoralist issues and developing knowledge-sharing tools. On the sidelines of the event, a media workshop was organised to train journalists on livestock, transhumance and trade issues.