Rangeland degradation, its perceived impacts and adaptive mechanisms by pastoralists and government
This study points out the drought characteristics and responses pastoralists and Government as well as partners employed continuously to minimize the effect of recurrent drought events on the livelihood of herders in Tahoua region of Niger Republic. Multiple data sources, including socioeconomic activities interviews with 225 households, group discussions and informal interviews with pastoralists were used to gather the aspects of drought and adaptive mechanisms and coping practices. Standardized precipitation index derived from long-term rainfall data obtained from National Direction of Meteorological Service distributed across the pastoral zone was used to appreciate different degrees of drought intensity between 1988 and 2018. Results revealed the alternance of near normal, wet and drought events with 77.4% prevalence of drought events. The socio-economic survey pointed out that 97.3% and 95.6% of the respondents were male and of Tuareg tribe respectively. All respondents resided in the area for than 30 years and 86.7% never attended western education. The main occupations of 40.1, 37.8 and 20.9% of respondents were livestock rearing, crop farming, and agro pastoral activities respectively. Nomadic, Agropastoral and transhumance were dominant livestock production systems. The highlighted drivers of rangeland degradation were recurrent draught, rainfall deficit and rising in temperature, overgrazing, tree clearing and abusive fodder collection, frequent fire outbreak and endemic shortage biomass production. Rangeland degradation indicators based on pastoralists Knowledge enumerated include decrease in tree density and firewood, in plants species and wildlife, frequent forage shortage and increase barren land and water ponds. These droughts negatively impacted the livelihoods of pastoralist. The impacts include reduction the productivity of animal, calving rate, milking frequency, increase susceptibly of animals to disease and mortalities, reduction in the price in the markets and conflicts over the resources utilization. To adapt or cope with climatic hazards, households used a variety of adaptive mechanisms and strategies in order to become more resilient. The strategies adopted vary according to the rate of forage and water deficit. In Normal year characterized by good availability of forage and water, Nomadic and transhumant undergo intra-departmental mobility. Strategic culling off weak and unproductive animals at time their prices on market are good to gather money for buying natural forages, crop residues, concentrate and satisfy family needs. In moderate years, Nomadic and transhumant (59.6%) carried out inter departmental mobility, supplemented their animal during the dry season (36.4%) and Strategic culling off and buying of forages (4%). The downward movement in the south is governed by the liberation of crop farms to avoid conflicts. Mobility, buying of forage, supplementation, and strategic destocking were respectively realized by 1.3%, 41.8%, 30.2% and 26.7% of the sample. Trans boundary mobility may in Nigeria and sometime Mali republic from October to March is also common. The actions conducted by government and partners to assist pastoralists were free vaccination of animals, Supply of concentrates at moderate price and activities such as Firewall construction, Soil and water conservation, and seed broadcasting in the form of cash for work, cash for food and cash transfer.
Keywords: Pastoralist, Mobility, Strategy, Coping, Destocking, Drought