Agro-pastoral Mediation in the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad)

In the Sahel region, pastoral and agricultural communities live from the natural resources they share. Their way of life is now threatened by the increasing scarcity of resources due to demographic pressure, climate change, desertification and insecurity. The survival of farmers relies on their increasingly difficult access to agricultural land. As for pastoralists, their ability to move around to feed their herds, whether seasonally or as natural resources become available, is paramount. However, the surge of armed conflicts in the region causes border closures, disrupts transhumance cycles and foments distrust among communities. Forced to cope with agricultural and social development strategies not adapted to their way of life, pastoralist communities are left to their own devices. It is in this context that competition between farmers, fisherfolk and pastoralist communities for access to water points and pastures has been politicised by the interplay of alliances with rival armed groups throughout the Sahel region. Meanwhile, military operations between jihadist groups, self-defence militias and security forces erode social cohesion, promote population displacement and stunt economic activity. Finally, the growing gap between governments and the governed, amid a lack of improvement in the socio-political and security crises in recent years, further limits the possibilities of resolving local conflicts.