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PROJECT TOPIC: LAND TENURE ISSUES IN WEST AFRICAN LIVESTOCK AND RANGE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

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ABSTRACT

This paper addresses the problem of identifying the relevant issues associated with the kind of rights held in landed resources in development projects dealing with livestock and range management in sub-Saharan Africa. There is increasing pressure for the livestock sector to contribute more to national economies as mounting evidence indicates a growing problem of food shortfalls on the continent. Seventy percent of all Africans are to some degree engaged in agricultural production. Yet, despite several decades of development initiatives by national and international agencies, the current FAO figures indicate a decreasing per capita production of food. This is not a new phenomenon. Rather, as Table 1 illustrates, it is a trend characteristic of the entire decade of the 1970s. In 1980 only a very small handful of sub-Saharan countries reported growth in agriculture greater than their growth in population, and these figures included crops grown for export (Lele 1981). The small increases in production are not the result of new techniques being applied to the better soil and range resources, but rather of maturing adults bringing ever more marginal land into production. This has led to the destruction of vast forest reserves at a time when Africa is a net importer of wood products and a movement of cultivators onto land suitable only for livestock production. This in turn forces the pastoralists to use more intensively those range resources that were already judged marginal. Our efforts associated with improving food production technologies in Africa are exacerbated by a continuing reduction in the potential of already fragile tropical agricultural soil and water resources. World attention was briefly focused on the nature and potential severity of major food shortages during the Sahelian drought of 1969-74. After much publicity, logistics, and organizational difficulty, the international community was able to respond with relief aid and food, which prevented the disaster from becoming any worse. Unfortunately, the end of the drought meant an end to the problem for many. Those in the development community, however, saw the need for far-reaching changes on a multinational, regional scale, if future such tragedies were to be avoided.


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