Regional Integration
Pastoral migration routes traverse national borders and administrative divisions, building regional networks for rural food production and trade. The basic reason for practicing pastoralism is that grazing resources in the Sudano-Sahel vary significantly throughout the year.... Read More
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Pastoral migration routes traverse national borders and administrative divisions, building regional networks for rural food production and trade. The basic reason for practicing pastoralism is that grazing resources in the Sudano-Sahel vary significantly throughout the year. The distances between available resources at different times in the year means that transhumance is necessarily cross-border, a fully regional subsistence practice. Numerous regional agreements exist to promote increased economic integration, but each requires application by national government and provincial administrations.

The movement of livestock from grazing lands to urban markets creates value chains that connect producers, herders, buyers and sellers along the way, across borders and between states. Pastoralists benefit by accompanying their livestock directly to regional markets, eliminating transport costs and heavy logistics. Along the way, small-scale trade with local farmers and their communities adds to the regional value chain. Such exchanges may involve the sale of crops or animal products, livestock feeding on crop residuals, or the fertilizing of local crops with manure. Heavy livestock losses due to disease, theft or violence can mean disrupted meat supplies to major capitals, or trade delays in neighboring countries.

The flow of people and livestock across porous borders, however, also has implications for regional security. Border regions across the Sudano-Sahel have become focal points for criminal and insurgent activity. The productive connections made by livestock are disrupted by border closures or other measures aimed at countering transnational armed conflict, terrorism and smuggling networks. While some pastoralists have been implicated in cross-border crime, closing borders to transhumance has a wide-ranging impact, including on local farmers or traders whose prosperity depends indirectly on the circulation of livestock. The economic consequences of border closures are as devastating as terrorism or COVID-19, according to some researchers.

Questions to Consider in Your Context
Intervention Strategies
Transhumance Agreements

The long-term viability of cross-border pastoralism as a production system depends on the application of a consistent framework across the wider region. One country’s decision to restrict mobility can impact the economic welfare of its neighbors. For this reason, various regional bodies have proposed and developed multilateral agreements to support and regulate transhumance. These frameworks aim to smooth border crossings by replacing ad hoc regulations with consistent policies that are easily followed and implemented at all border posts among participating member states. However, in practice, these frameworks frequently fall short of effective implementation.

What Makes Transhumance Agreements Succeed?
What Makes Transhumance Agreements Fail?
Case Study
Cross-Border Transhumance Agreements
Case Study
ECOWAS Guarantees Free Movement of Livestock
Negotiation of Cross-Border Migration

Pastoralists’ migration routes have long taken them across political borders, but these movements have become delicate affairs as states increasingly regulate migration for security or political reasons. Movement across contested borders can be a trigger in wider inter-state conflict, particularly when cattle are escorted by armed guards. Community leaders have played an essential role in ensuring that regular cross-border migrations can happen peacefully by negotiating agreements or open channels of communication between migrant and host groups. Tensions over the Sudan-South Sudan border provide a perfect example. Arab pastoralists from Western Kordofan, the Misseriya, have historically grazed their cattle in Bahr al Ghazal, a border state in South Sudan. Hostilities and bloodshed with resident Ngok Dinka forced the border to be closed until 2014, when both parties met to find agreement on transit routes and compensation for violence.  External interventions can play a role in facilitating peaceful cross-border migration by creating space for communities to meet and negotiate.

What Makes Migration Agreements Succeed?
What Makes Migration Agreements Fail?
Case Study
Border Communities Organize Pre-Migration Conferences in South Sudan
Regional Security Coordination

Many of the borderland regions that have long been pathways for pastoral livestock have become a key nexus for transnational crime and insurgency. Regional counterterrorism frameworks, such as the G-5 Sahel, multi-state administrative entities, such as the Liptako Gourma Authority, have responded to the need for a coordinated approach to security. Yet such coordination is often limited to armed forces and state governments, when it could be extended to civilian actors who support regional security. Facilitating the safe and legal movement of livestock requires a regional security architecture that engages the community leaders who have long played a leading role in negotiating livestock migrations, mediating conflicts, and protecting livestock against theft (see Module – Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism).

Border regions across the Sudano-Sahel have been major hotspots of violence, as shown here in the case of the Liptako-Gourma and Lake Chad regions, both of which are critical zones for pastoralism.
What Makes Regional Security Cooperation Succeed?
What Makes Regional Security Cooperation Fail?
Case Study
Conflict Monitoring Systems Inform Regional Actions of Pastoralism
Research on Regional Value Chains

Pastoralism’s contributions to rural economies are poorly documented and understood. For centuries, transhumance has linked multiple nodes of regional commerce across the Sudano-Sahel. Livestock raised in the drylands of Niger or Mali are moved south to access wetlands or markets in coastal states like Nigeria and Benin and as they travel they generate revenue and value through payment for veterinary services, trade with local farmers, or providing fertilizer for crops. This intra-continental trade is essential for satisfying the increasing demand from urban centers for meat products and adds value to agricultural production that would not come from ranching or other modes of production. The total value add of this economic activity is often difficult to quantify, as informal contributions such as manure can be substantial but not readily reflected in existing data. Producing and disseminating accurate information about the role of pastoralism in regional value chains is essential for policymakers and investors to make informed decisions about how they can support the livestock sector.

What Makes Research on Regional Value Chains Succeed?
What Makes Research on Regional Value Chains Fail?
Case Study
Local Researchers Quantify Pastoral Value Chains