Articles | Volume 7, issue 4
Research article
13 Dec 2016
Research article |  | 13 Dec 2016

Weather and resource information as tools for dealing with farmer–pastoralist conflicts in the Sahel

Ole Mertz, Kjeld Rasmussen, and Laura Vang Rasmussen

Abstract. Conflicts between pastoralists and farmers in the Sahel mainly arise from competition over land and water resources or because of livestock damage to crops. Rather than being linked to larger environmental change processes such as climate change, conflicts are often caused by inappropriate zoning of land, governance and unequal power relations between stakeholders. However, conflicts may be affected by more short-term weather and resource information that guide mobility of pastoralists. In this paper, we therefore explore if improved weather and resource information and improvement in its communication could prevent conflicts or reduce their severity. Based on a survey of key stakeholders involved in dissemination of weather and resource information and studies on pastoral access to and use of information, we conclude that improved information may both reduce and increase the level of conflict, depending on the context. Communication of information will need to go beyond just the weather and resource information and also include the multiple options for herd movements as well as providing information on herd crowding and potential conflict areas.

Short summary
Conflicts over land and water resources between livestock herders and farmers are common in the Sahelian region of Africa. In this paper we show that improved information on weather, grazing areas, and water resources may reduce the level of conflict if communicated in such a way so that not too many livestock herds go to the same areas. However, if this information is not accompanied by information on herd crowding and potential conflict areas, it may lead to more conflict.
Final-revised paper