Policy Measures for Pastoralists in Niger


Erica Phillips


Erica Phillips (2007). Case Study #7-6, "Policy Measures for Pastoralists in Niger". In: Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Fuzhi Cheng (editors), "Food Policy for Developing Countries: Case Studies." 12 pp.
URL: http://cip.cornell.edu/dns.gfs/1200428186


Pastoralism is often misunderstood, labeled “backward” and “irrational,” and considered environmentally destructive by many policy makers. Bias toward settled farmers has historically dominated research institutions, governments, and development nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and some countries have attempted to forcibly settle their pastoralist populations. In many arid and semiarid regions, however, pastoralism is the best or only way humans can make productive use of natural resources. Pastoralists have adjusted to some of the harshest conditions in the world and have well-designed, adaptive livelihood strategies. In addition, pastoralists contribute to one of the strongest export sectors in certain countries—the meat market.

Over the past few decades, multiple factors have threatened the livelihoods of Niger’s pastoralists, causing pastoralists and agropastoralists to be some of the most food-insecure populations in the country. These factors include severe droughts, a decrease in accessible grazing land due to increased land pressure from growing farming populations, conflict over land, environmental degradation, and changing land tenure laws, which often bring ambiguity and a bias toward settled farmers. Mobility and access to grazing lands and water are essential to pastoralists’ livelihoods and are their most important risk management strategies. Even with welldesigned livelihood strategies, if pastoralists lack access to secure grazing areas and water points, their livelihoods are in jeopardy.

In an effort to better manage natural resources and protect its public goods, Niger’s government has created a law that redefines who can claim land, who can use land, and who mediates conflicts over land. This law follows a trend among countries in the region, which have created laws devolving natural resource management to local communities, placing more control in the hands of community members themselves. Often, however, such laws have led pastoralists living in agropastoral zones to lose access to grazing land.

Today, some policy makers ask if pastoralism can evolve, possibly by being integrated with farming, or if it is bound to fade away, consumed by modern society. Vital policies for sustaining and improving pastoralists’ livelihoods include drafting realistic laws or mechanisms to facilitate ease of mobility and access to land. Other policy options include designing strategies to help pastoralists out of emergency situations caused by drought, improving market possibilities for livestock, promoting cooperation between settled and nonsettled groups, and conducting research into livestock management and mixed farming systems improvement.

Your assignment is to create a policy package that would preserve the livelihoods of Niger’s pastoralists. You must take into account the multiple interactions, needs, and priorities of all stakeholders and design policies that can support the livelihoods of all of these groups. You must also consider who has the capacity and which party or parties are best suited to enact these policy options.

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