Building momentum around rangelands across Africa

Thursday, January 11, 2018

In 2017, the Rangeland Initiative mobilised resources, built partnerships and advocated for pastoralists land rights  

The Rangeland Initiative is scaling efforts to improve land governance in Africa. The Initiative’s engagement efforts reached new grounds in 2017, when it connected with stakeholders and advocated for secure tenure systems in West Africa. While the process began well in East and Central Africa in the last five years, West Africa was yet to benefit from its extensive approach. In 2017, West Africa became a key engagement target; particularly as pastoralism prove to be a viable means of livelihood for vulnerable communities in the sub region.

In Senegal and Benin where the Initiative worked, linkages with regional projects, schemes and initiatives implemented in countries with ILC members are being created, and development actors are gaining interest in the approach. For example, the Initiative is currently discussing intervention possibilities with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on conflict sensitive programming and planning in West Africa, while Acting for Life, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the French Development Agency (AFD) showed interest in the Initiative.

However, 2017 was such a difficult year for rangelands. Conflicts between pastoralists and sedentary farmers heightened and worsened by climate change, land degradation, more interest by investors in rangelands and demographic shifts. The world also observed with shock how terrible weather conditions pushed pastoralists to the limits and transformed quietest places into conflict zones.

In such a difficult year, each step towards securing tenure rights need a careful approach and a well thought strategy that can effectively navigate through the conflicts. It is not a surprise, the Initiative; reviewed action plans and built synergies for interventions in Arusha, Tanzania in August 2017.

Skills, experiences, capabilities and expert insights are by design very important for development. Translating research into knowledge and action often help actors learn from mistakes. That is why after observing knowledge gaps in Africa; the Initiative plans to build knowledge models to match the existing gaps. It will build learning platforms, conflict-mapping schemes and capitalise on the existing knowledge through a shared learning processes.

African countries get between 10 and 44 percent of their Gross Domestic Product from pastoral agriculture. According to the International Livestock Research Institute 1.3 billion people benefit from livestock value chain.

But the practice of pastoralism will not be possible without access to land and resources. Achieving that means working one step after another to influence frameworks that guide access to land. The Initiative will continue to work to influence processes in 2018 to improve tenure security. There shall be more efforts towards learning between and amongst the sub-regions of in Africa. Exchange visits to share lessons of flagship projects and pilots that the Rangelands Initiative, ILC members and partners in the Africa region will be launched. This will enable stakeholders to cross learn from each other best approaches to influence processes in East, West and Central Africa.