Pastoral Units - Natural resource sharing
"A more reliable water supply for people and livestock."
Competition for pasture and water often leads to precarious land tenure for Senegalese farmers. Weak infrastructure, drought and a lack social services contribute to the problem.
Pastoral Units (UPs) are self-managing collectives that share natural resources in a sustainable, organized way.
Improving food security
Efficient sharing of boreholes, ponds and wells and a better hydraulic infrastructure lead to a more reliable water supply for people and livestock. Vaccination parks help make livestock more resilient.
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The PADAER (Programme d’Appui au Developpement Agricole et a l’Entrepreneriat Rural) project can offer
- valuable experience in organizing and supporting UPs in resource-scarce environments
IFAD, Republic of Senegal Ministry of Agriculture, Service régional de l’élevage , Service régional de l’hydraulique, Agence nationale pour le conseil agricole (ANCAR), Coopération Espagnole
2011 - 2017
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With increasing competition for land and water, natural resource management and land tenure security are important elements of any development project in Senegal. The PADAER program promotes the development of pastoral units (known as Unités pastorales, or UPs), groups of pastoralists who share resources and have chosen to cooperate for their mutual benefit.
By supporting these collectives, the project aims to build their resilience, improve livestock productivity and production, strengthen their food security, and enhance their livelihoods and rural incomes. Other objectives are the reduction of potential conflicts between pastoralists that share grazing/agricultural spaces and water resources, and the improvement of pasturelands and pastoral infrastructure.
Despite some improvements in the recent past, pastoralists in Senegal face the following challenges:
- Poor access to basic social services
- Weak government institutions that are not well aligned with traditional systems
- Limited public participation in local decision-making processes
- Dependence on extensive livestock production with poorly developed support services and uneven access to markets
- Vulnerability to recurring droughts exacerbated by climate change
- Increasing competition for natural resource use, and constrained mobility due to new settlements and large-scale development schemes
Creation of the UPs was intended to address many of these constraints.
Pastoral units (UPs) are institutional entities representing a group of pastoralists sharing the same natural resources and water points (ponds, boreholes, wells), who have chosen to unite with the aim of improving their social and economic wellbeing. The UPs are set up under a legal decree from the local authorities and are headed by a management committee, assisted by government technical experts. UPs are responsible for implementing activities set out in a village management plan and helping members to access financial service institutions.
The Support to Agricultural Development and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme (PADAER) started in 2011 and grew to support a total of 22 new and existing UPs. Its approach was to create or strengthen the UPs as the main facilitators of project activities, and to construct hydraulic infrastructure and vaccination parks in areas where there was adequate scope for improving/expanding the water points and natural pasture. Other measures to support the UPs were the inclusion of policy dialogue on issues around pastoralists’ land rights and better coordination with other active donors in the sector.
The project adopted additional measures to address water constraints by expanding the storage capacities of water towers. This increased accessibility and improved coverage of the population and livestock's water needs. The program has also upgraded the quality and capacity of both the hydraulic infrastructure (reducing the long waiting times for livestock and pastoralists around the boreholes) and vaccination parks (strengthening the resilience of pastoralists and pastoral activities in the face of climate variability). Similarly, the project has upgraded the construction standards of vaccination parks to make them more durable and accommodate small ruminants. Management committees, comprising representatives from farmers organizations (FOs) and local authorities, were instituted at the start of the civil works constructions to be in charge of the facilities.
In policy dialogue with government and other stakeholders, the project has helped to position natural resource management as one of the principal themes affecting pastoralists at a time when a law on land tenure was being discussed in Senegal.
Activities implemented under the project, such as opening up villages and production areas and improving access to drinking water and animal watering points have generated substantive improvements in the living conditions of pastoralists. More individuals have access to the hydraulic and pastoral works, and higher-capacity drinking troughs have shortened waiting times around the boreholes and improved animal health.
As well as introducing 22 active UPs, PADAER has completed activities include 4 water towers, 12 vaccination parks, and 12 larger-capacity drinking troughs.
Lessons learned and potential for replication
- Despite a significant improvement in the organizational capacity and institutional development of UPs, which were generally very weak at the start of the project, further support is needed for them to become fully autonomous and to enable them to provide effective economic services to their members on a sustainable basis.
- With the current focus of UPs being on production, more attention must be given to storage, processing, conservation and marketing, including the completion of the market facilities envisaged at design.
- The UPs' management committees need more support to increase their capacity to manage the infrastructure.
- More effort is needed to raise awareness among local populations, in order to establish good organizational dynamics and increase engagement with pastoral management.
IFAD's management is considering additional financing to complete the rehabilitation and construction of hydro-agricultural livestock infrastructure and markets, and to make sure they are properly managed and sustainable. This is expected to provide pastoral communities with increased access to potable water for human consumption and livestock watering, helping to improve the living and socio-economic conditions of rural smallholders. Additionally, more than 500 FOs will be become more dynamic and autonomous after the project completion.
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Last update: 09/08/2018