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February 15th, 2019

Transforming pasotralist mobility in West Darfur: Understanding continuity and change

Published by Feinstein International Center of Tufts University,

This study (PDF) by Feinstein International Center of Tufts University examines how livestock keepers in Darfur Region of Sudan cope with and manage extreme climate variability, and potential insecurity and conflict, and how this coping differs according to systems of livestock production and mobility patterns. Pastoralist mobility offers significant production advantages and enables pastoralist herds to access the best-quality grazing during the rainy season. Results show that the annual cycle of mobility differs according to whether livestock keepers are specialists in farming or pastoralism. Patterns of mobility have changed. Compared to the pasts, grazing territories are retracting closer to the home area. All livestock keepers identified insecurity as their predominant concern. The restricted patterns of mobility are a preventive response strategy to counter security risks. Livestock keepers avoid remote pastureland that might put them at risk from bandits and armed groups. Additionally, the lack of water for livestock is pushing livestock keepers to reduce the time spent at certain areas despite the availability of quality pasture. As a result, livestock keepers must make trade-offs between the threat of insecurity and looting versus the risks of overgrazing, poor-quality pasture, overcrowding, and disease. Thus, livestock keepers design and manage the annual cycle of movement to sustain and protect their herds and support household food security and other livelihood goals. Dry years and floods are characteristic of this region. Drought coping strategies,  including higher frequency movement and tree cutting to use seeds and pods as fodder, risk overgrazing and degradation of tree cover. Conflict responses include: keeping small livestock herds within the village and moving larger, more mobile herds in bigger groups. None of these responses adequately address the problems faced, and so there is a need for a more collaborative and considered institutional, policy, and programmatic response involving discussing the issues with both the local- and state-level authorities and other stakeholders.

Curated from fic.tufts.edu