Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) are widespread in Africa covering between 60-80% of the land surface. They are home to a substantial portion of pastoralists (currently one of the most vulnerable groups in sub-Saharan Africa with respect to the impacts of climate change), and to some extent to sedentary farming communities. Due to continued population growth, the pressure on natural resources has increased significantly and led to a range of conflicts. ASALs are fragile ecosystems where natural resources such as water, fertile soil and vegetation are scarce. Furthermore, the ecosystems are not easily recovered once degraded. Currently, the ecological dynamics are jeopardized by the inevitable growing effects of climate change and variability.
In these vulnerable and relatively resource-poor ASALs, there is increased competition between pastoralists, sedentary farmers (beneficiaries) and livestock and wildlife for water, fodder and land, leading to conflicts and further degradation of ecosystems as the carrying capacity of this fragile natural environment continues to wane and is often exceeded.
The effect of climate change on the ecosystem is notorious and still growing. But even under increasingly unfavorable climatic conditions, it is expected that the pastoralists will do whatever they can to keep their livestock at present stocking rates. Their adaptation strategies to climate change will undoubtedly consist of a robust approach including a more intensive migration towards areas where fodder is available (e.g. protected areas, cropping areas), resulting in increased competition for resources with wildlife and crop farmers and associated conflicts.
Judicious management of these natural resources, including conflict management and adaptation/mitigation to climate change, is necessary to avert severe ecological disasters and continuous conflicts. Understandably, sustainable management of scarce natural resources becomes even more complex in the situation of cross-border (or across Regional Economic Communities (RECs)) land use systems where different regulatory and institutional frameworks apply and where common transboundary mechanisms have to be set up to allow adequate natural resource management.
Building upon experiences (DLWEIP) in two such zones , notably in Kenya (Samburu and Laikipia Districts) and Burkina Faso (Arly National Park), the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), through this Project, seeks to address these issues and develop ways of strengthening the adaptive capacities of the livestock-dependent communities, providing livelihood alternatives and less conflictive solutions as follow-up to strengthen and consolidate recent gains in the aforementioned hotspots and to start up a similar process in four other transboundary hotspots namely: