In section one we found the structural exclusion of pastoralists at the central state level and in villages, resulting in grievances and biased customary justice that favours settled communities over pastoralists. What is important, however, is that pastoralists have faced these various other challenges in the past but have been resilient enough to deal with these pressures. This section explores why these resilience mechanisms are no longer effective. It argues that economic, environmental, and socio-political factors in combination with the spread of violence and insecurity throughout the country are posing an unprecedented threat. Very resilient systems in the past are no longer sustainable modes of production and, coupled with mounting insecurity and violence, past pastoralist production systems no longer appear to be sustainable.

In this section we first explore the inner workings of the pastoral market, and the changing economic reality in which pastoralists are making a living. We pay specific attention to the position of pastoralists within the cattle value chain and their relations with other stakeholders who are active in this market. This brings us to the identification of two main problems when it comes to pastoralists’ livelihoods, addressing the main hurdles they face when their market integration is being hindered and the pressures that are undercutting pastoral mobility. Finally, we analyse the impacts of the security context on the pastoral economy based on voices from the field.

3.1 The inner workings of the pastoralist market

Livestock markets are an essential component of pastoral viability that connect pastoralists to trade circuits, and link production areas to consumer centres in larger cities and importing countries. As places where the different actors in the livestock value chain come together and transactions are made, these markets disclose underlying power dynamics. Livestock markets are divided into collection markets, assembly markets and export markets. Collection markets are located at the village level and assembly markets and export markets at the level of provincial capitals and departmental capitals with a large number of animals being shipped out to foreign markets.

In the East region of Burkina Faso, there are about 70 livestock markets including collection markets, assembly markets and the export market of Fada N’Gourma which is the largest market in the region.[70] Buyers come from other cities in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana. The Sahel region has about forty livestock export markets.[71] In these markets, some animals come from Niger and Mali. In Boucle du Mouhoun, the markets that are still functional are Béna, Djibasso, Yasso and Kouka. These markets are characterized by a period of peak attendance between July and January and a period of low attendance between February and June. The peak period corresponds with the return of transhumance by herders and the low period corresponds with the dry season during which herders follow the practice of transhumance in the coastal countries of Benin, Togo and Ghana. Figure 3 gives an indication of the different markets where cattle pass through from production to export or meat, with a visual indication of the increasing number of cattle and actors that are active in each of these markets. In the table below an overview is given of the different actors, locations and main supporting organisations active per market.

Figure 3
Cattle and stakeholders going through different markets
Cattle and stakeholders going through different markets
Table 1
Different markets in the cattle value chain


Collection market

Assembly market


Processing (meat)




Urban pastoralists Fatteners

Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists

Collecting traders


Civil servants in rural areas

Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists



Civil servants in rural areas

Collecting traders

Exporting traders


Brokers and brokers’ assistants

Collecting traders


Exporting traders

Truck drivers

Herders/ shepherds






Urban in the case of intensive systems


Commune and village

Urban and peri-urban



Supporting organisations


Comité de gestion du marché (COGES)

Comité de gestion du marché (COGES)

Brokers’s Association « Barkè »,

Provincial Union of Livestock Export Traders of Fada (UPCEB/F),

Comité de gestion du marché (COGES),

Association des bouchers

Association des bouchers de Fada

Association « kawral » des boucher

3.2 Actors in the pastoralist market

When they decide to sell their animals, pastoralists are located at the start of a marketing chain. Depending on the type of market served, the chain contains few or many actors along the different steps.

In Burkina Faso, at the local (rural) level the chain remains relatively short containing few actors and involves a limited number of animals. Destined for export, the animals go through a longer chain containing more intermediate actors along the different links. The growing demand for livestock products is providing opportunities for pastoral production and commercialisation to expand. However, with increasing linkages to regional and global trade networks, processes of privatisation, sedentarisation and territorialisation are becoming new challenges and pose new uncertainties for traditional pastoralists. In the exchange between informal pastoral economies and high-value export markets, traders enforce their dominant position in the market and new actors enter the value chain competing at all levels. While pastoralists are generally only involved at the level of the sale of their own animals either directly to a collection trader or at the market, it is other groups of producers and an increasing amount of middlemen who have been the ones taking advantage of changing market dynamics driven by policies favouring the intensification of cattle production in order to meet the increasing demand for meat and milk in growing urban areas. These middlemen are purely traders and are from different ethnic groups than the producers.

The first intermediaries are the collecting traders who buy livestock for immediate resale during the following days. They buy directly from pastoralists in their camps or from collector markets and resell the cattle in assembly and export markets. Collecting traders have become increasingly numerous in production areas. The push towards the increasing commercialisation of the sector, driven by policies favouring the intensification of cattle production in order to meet the increasing demand for meat and milk in growing urban areas, has introduced some new actors at this level. Farmers and even some rural officials have become involved in livestock breeding and marketing. For them cattle have become an increasing investment opportunity as they can buy directly from pastoralists and immediately sell at a margin. This is a phenomenon that has grown in the last five years in the Eastern region and can also be observed in the Boucle du Mouhoun.[72] At the collection market, the animals are either destined for national consumption and go to the butchers in the slaughterhouses or they are exported to neighbouring countries. The processing from animal to meat happens at each of the different national markets; Burkina Faso also exports live animals.

At the next market level an additional intermediary makes its entrée. Brokers are intermediaries between sellers and buyers at a livestock market, ensuring the traceability of any animal sold. In the East region brokers are only found in certain markets such as assembly markets and export markets. In Fada market, for example, there are 32 brokers who divide the market amongst themselves. Each broker is supported by 4 broker assistants. They are organised in an association called “Barké” with 165 members. They are the only ones who are allowed to sell animals which gives them a strong position in the market in Fada.[73] In the market of Béna, a small town in Boucle du Mouhoun, there are about 20 brokers organized in an informal association. Here they receive 1,500 CFA francs per animal sold (1,000 CFA paid by the buyer and 500 CFA by the seller).[74] Being at the heart of all transactions, they negotiate prices and can often make gains of between 5,000 and 15,000 or even 20,000 CFA francs on large adult males when the price of livestock is good in the market[75]. On top of that, they also receive a portion of the market tax of 75 CFA francs that every buyer pays per animal. The income from this tax is divided among the market management committee (COGES), the mayor and the brokers’ association.

Depending on the region, export traders buy livestock from brokers at the export markets of Fada N’Gourma, Pouytenga, Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouagadougou and certain assembly markets and sell them abroad in Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Côte d’Ivoire. The exports contain almost 100 per cent of live animals because of consumer preferences and because bigger margins can be made on live animals as compared to meat. On the largest animals that are sold for up to 600,000 CFA, they can gain a gross margin up to 75,000 CFA. These margins depend on whether the animals are transported immediately, first fattened or taken on transhumance to external markets, as each practice is faced with different risks and costs. In general, costs associated with the export of live animals include transportation by truck (400,000 CFA), shepherds, often impoverished or young pastoralists, who transport livestock (50,000 CFA by truck and 75,000 CFA per month on foot), market fees (15,000 CFA), customs charges (130,000-200,000 CFA), veterinary costs (15,000 CFA) and police harassment (15,000 CFA).[76]

By employing these different exporting practices, traders can assess market dynamics and wait for a better time when prices are higher before selling the animals. [77] Traders are the more resilient in the value chain since they do not bear any of the risks.[78] Operating from a commercial perspective, traders engage in a variety of additional activities, allowing them to reduce their livestock export activities when the external market is in deficit and to be able to quickly recover when livestock prices return to more profitable levels. Furthermore, they can paralyze the sector, as has already happened in the Fada market, when the brokers wanted to increase brokerage fees from 2,000 to 5,000 CFA francs. Exporters refused to buy, and the market remained closed, forcing brokers to postpone their increase.

Problem 1: Pastoralist market integration is failing

A recent price analysis shows that over the last 10 years, markets in the Sahel are becoming more integrated on both a national as well as a regional level. It is important to note that this economic integration is a process that is strongly supported by transhumance movements which facilitates the circulation of people, animals and information.[79] While in theory such integration can benefit producers by gaining access to higher purchasing power and higher prices – improving their livelihoods – when we scrutinize the relations between different actors along the marketing chain pastoralists do not appear to be the ones who profit from these dynamics. It remains difficult for pastoralists to take advantage of these dynamics and strengthen their position in the chain from production, processing, transportation to commercialisation (see the cattle value chain above).

Market dynamics are thus an important driver of change for pastoral livelihoods. These conditions push pastoralists into vulnerable positions. Pastoralists are effectively not participating in the regional market, but other players do so with their goods, and earn a premium. While livestock market networks are often largely informal, we see an increasingly conflicting tendency between formal and informal markets being played out between externally-driven capitalist expansion and local, internal dynamics.[80] There are four barriers that explain why pastoralists are not integrating in regional markets.

First, their remoteness confines pastoralists to mainly selling at collection markets in livestock producing areas, far from external buyers such as exporters. To sell their animals, they must rely on buyers who come to them or on middlemen like brokers. Brokers act as intermediaries between sellers and buyers in a livestock market. Each broker has a traditional network of several pastoralists who entrust them with their animals for sale and also livestock exporters employ the services of an appointed broker from whom they obtain supplies.[81] This also limits their access to knowledge about the market environment and the members of the value chain. This includes information on the prices of different categories of livestock as well as other relevant market information that will facilitate informed decision-making and minimises the risk of exploitation by buyers. This information is traditionally passed on by word of mouth, either at the camp of the pastoralist producer or at the market itself but it can be inaccurate or limited in its geographical reach. Initiatives like the ‘Mobile Data for Moving Herd Management and better incomes’ (MODHEM) in Burkina Faso[82] have made great strides in providing access to reliable data. While this has increased pastoralists’ resilience, enabling them to avoid droughts and conflicts for example, it is not enough to improve their market position and negotiation strength.

Second, pastoralists are poorly represented in livestock market management committees and are hardly organised at the local level.[83] At the national level, several pastoral organisations are working to improve the living conditions of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists. Without being exhaustive, we can cite: Association Nodde Nooto (A2N), Association des Eleveurs pour la Gestion Durable de l’Environnement (AEGDE) , Association pour la Promotion de l’Elevage au Sahel et en Savane (APESS), Comité Régional des Unités de Production au Sahel (CRUS), Association Dental & Pinal, Réseau de Communication sur le Pastoralisme (RECOPA), Reseau des Représentants traditionnels des Éleveurs ( ROUGA) and Plateforme d’Actions à la Sécurisation des Ménages Pastoraux (PASMEP). More recently, in addition to their usual missions, pastoral organisations such as the Pastoralist Communication Network (RECOPA) and the Regional Council of Sahel Unions (CRUS) have stepped in to help pastoralists and agro-pastoralists through donations of food, livestock feed, etc.[84]

However, for a long time their organizations have been more interested in production-related issues, forgetting about marketing, which has become a focus for them in recent years. Middlemen are much better structured. Apart from the borkers’ associations as mentioned above, other organisations include the Fédération Nationale de la Filière Bétail Viande du Burkina. In the Eastern region, those in the cattle sector are organised in an association called the Union Provinciale des Commerçants Exportateurs de Bétail de Fada (UPCEB/F). These structures have benefited from several organizational support programmes from the Confederation of National Federations of the West African Livestock and Meat Sector (COFENABVI-AO) and financial partners such as the Swiss Cooperation and USAID. Well organised, UPCEB/F had succeeded in establishing local memoranda of understanding with some financial institutions. Between 2008 and 2016, UPCEB/F had benefited from a credit of 60 million euros from ECOBANK on a first occasion, then 100 million euros the following year and 200 million euros during the last year. The savings and credit cooperative GALOR also supported the export sector during the same period.

That being said, a third barrier relates to their market rationale which does not match an increasingly commercially-oriented value chain. In essence, cattle are the equivalent of a savings account for pastoralists. They manage their herd to reach an equilibrium in herd size and composition adjusted to available resources, in order to avoid having to buy expensive additional fodder and manage diseases amongst other things.[85] This means that they are reluctant to sell, even when the price is high since the timing of sales is driven by particular cash needs rather than market demand. While this rationale is an important part of pastoral production systems, it is also a vulnerability factor regarding market integration and the micro level. These needs include education for children, marriage, veterinary costs, payments for access to resources during transhumance or coping with famine.[86] For example, it is especially during the dry season that pastoralists are often in need of cash to buy additional fodder or to pay negotiation fees in order to access water points.

Instead of being able to sell at this time when their animals are fatter and are worth more, they are forced to sell off when resources dwindle, and the animals start to lose weight again. In addition, this means that cattle are brought to the market in small numbers, which makes it hard to negotiate a good price. A shift in livestock ownership, a phenomenon that started as an outcome of the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, introduced new actors at the production level with a more commercial mindset: public servants, traders, investors, and farmers from different ethnic groups such as the Gourmantché who see investment opportunities diversify their livelihoods by joining the livestock sector. Years of operating in increasingly extreme conditions facing droughts, epidemics and cattle rustling have impoverished many pastoralists, diminishing their livestock ownership. With these new dynamics, some of the traditional pastoralists joined the labour force supply of these new, richer, commercially-oriented livestock owners.[87]

Fourth and finally, mounting conflicts and instability affect the livestock market and it is the pastoralists who have to bear the vast majority of the costs of the insecurity. Armed attacks on markets have slowed down market activities at all levels, from the export market in Fada to smaller local markets such as Piéga, Matiacoali, Nagré, and Natiabonli in Gourma.[88] Other markets have reached a complete standstill since the first quarter of 2020.[89] In addition, the advent of COVID-19 at the beginning of 2020 and the restrictive measures taken by the state to deal with the pandemic have put more pressure on these markets. In the Eastern region, the Fada livestock market and the surrounding collection markets were closed for five consecutive weeks. This affected all actors in the market, from brokers who were unemployed, to exporting traders who were forced to wait longer for their money from butchers, to external markets and the exports to Togo and Benin that were halted.

While traders and middlemen have been diversifying their livelihoods over the years as we discussed above, in times of crisis in the pastoral sector they are therefore more able to rely on their other activities. Pastoralists, on the other hand, rely completely on their livestock and become increasingly desperate. Since the price of animals is not fixed, the phenomenon of insecurity has caused several actors to fall back on one single market, thereby reducing prices. On top of that, during the five weeks of market closure because of COVID-19, pastoralists were forced to sell their cattle on the outskirts of the market area at a loss. In addition to markets, also borders were closed in order to prevent the cross-country spread of the virus which resulted in many transhumant herders with their animals in neighbouring countries being stranded in neighbouring countries.

COVID-19 is further compounding the already difficult situation that pastoralists find themselves in and this is caused by the deteriorating security context, and pastoralists have indicated that the latter is still of much greater concern to them. Several respondents in the Sahel and East region indicate that the security situation has discouraged them from moving with their cattle to the market, as secondary markets in rural areas which are closer to pastoralists’ home base are closed and movement to larger markets further away such as Djibo is considered to be too risky. Cattle thefts and losses have become a major security issue and pastoralists complain about extortion by self-defence groups such as Koglowego who are stepping in to provide protection against cattle thefts.[90] Furthermore, cattle rustling has intensified among VEOs, particularly in the East and centre-North provinces, and this has become an important source for financing their activities. This dynamic has a strong impact on the pastoralism-security nexus.

Pastoralists recall that where, previously, a couple of animals were stolen by bandits and organised gangs operating in border areas, today one’s whole herd is taken and one risks being murdered. With the stolen cattle, extremist groups become implicated in these cattle being sold at both national and international markets. However, since most of the pastoral economy is informal and traders are implicated, it is difficult to investigate the impact this has on the market.[91] In the East and Sahel regions, some pastoralists find their animals stolen or lost thanks to the actions of the brokers’ associations and the Rougas association which help them.[92] Today, it is also common to find abandoned or lost animals whose distressed owners can no longer care for them, and so they are seized and sold at auction by rural and even urban communities.[93]

Pastoralists are the victims of stigmatisation and abuse in several regions where their camps have been the object of deadly attacks (e.g. Yirgou, Tawalbougou, etc.) which have led to many pastoralist families losing their homes, material goods and livestock. They have fled their camps to take refuge in precarious so-called safer urban and rural centres. The regions most affected by IDPs are Centre-North, Sahel, North, East, the Mouhoun loop and Centre-East.[94] Among the more than 1.13 million IDPs registered in Burkina Faso by humanitarian agencies, there are hundreds of thousands of pastoralists. Others, who anticipated the security crisis, left for other locations within the country or across the borders in neighbouring countries such as Togo, Benin, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. These permanent movements of pastoralists with their herds southwards are not only negatively impacting markets in the East, Sahel and to a lesser extent the Boucle du Mouhoun regions, but the Burkinabe livestock industry in general as they result in lost revenue for the state.[95]

Overall, we can conclude that despite increased regional market integration and a growing demand for cattle and meat, mainly in the rapidly urbanising coastal states, pastoralists face several barriers hampering their market integration. They remain in a vulnerable position in the market. Within an unstable socio-political and security context, pastoralists are assuming most of the risks while taking but not reaping the rewards in the cattle trade.

Problem 2: The breakdown of mobility as a resilience mechanism

A key feature of traditional pastoral production strategies is living with and under uncertainty.[96] A central strategy to manage such uncertainty has been mobility. Mobile pastoralism has long been an effective strategy for the majority of Sahelian pastoralists to adapt to the harsh and volatile climatic conditions of the Sahel and is the dominant livestock production system in Burkina Faso.[97] It is an extensive production system characterized by the practice of transhumance – seasonal and cyclical movements of varying degrees between complementary agroecological zones.[98] The basic pattern of transhumance in Burkina Faso has been a north-south migration in which pastoralists and their livestock transition from the more arid Sahelian region in the north to the more humid Sudanian/Sudano-Guinean regions in the south.[99] During the wet season, the opposite movement leads pastoralists and their livestock towards the arid and semi-arid zones in the north, which often have high quality pasture.

Transhumance, however, is still poorly understood. Around 75 per cent of the livestock is farmed using a ‘traditional’ nomadic and migratory approach, both on a national and cross-border basis.[100] It is a unique and highly adaptive production strategy based on herd mobility and their ability to find the most nutritious grazing patches among the natural dryland pastures, a system that is most adapted to the harsh environmental conditions of the Sahel. (Cross-border) Mobility is not only essential for the quality of animal production but is also part and parcel of the pastoralist production line more generally. Cattle need to be moved from dryland zones to border markets and urban centres for trade, butchering, processing, and consumption. The main pastoralist and transhumance corridors generally flow from North to South depending on the season, facilitating trade between Sahelian producing areas and Southern coastal markets.[101]

The problem is that pastoral mobility is affected by several factors: droughts; the reduced availability of pastoral resources by the encroachment of farmland into grazing areas; and policies favouring the intensification of cattle production through the sedentarization of livestock production which do not recognize the importance of mobility.

Challenges to mobility is not new. Various studies have indicated how a combination of demographic, ecological, political, and security factors have subjected transhumance to patterns of change in the past in terms of geography and timing.[102] For example, in response to the major droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, pastoralists adapted and their routes in Burkina Faso gradually shifted southward to access wetter areas.[103] Since the 1990s, despite rainfall having increased, pastures no longer regenerate properly, leading to a degradation of rangelands.[104] As a result, the range of herd mobility has become more important and transhumant routes have been extended. Pastoralists created alternative livestock routes and the stays in the destination site areas became longer.[105] In the west of Burkina Faso for example, an increase in orchards has altered transhumance destinations and the transhumance routes within western corridors.[106] At the same time some transhumant pastoralists have moved to a more sedentary lifestyle to take advantage of the benefits of crop-livestock integration, thereby becoming agro-pastoralists.[107]

Pastoralists’ shifting routes are often highlighted as a key explanation for the increase in pastoralism-related conflicts in the Sahel.[108] Travelling to where they have never been before might mean that pastoralists drive their livestock into new farming land causing local frictions which can escalate into conflict. They would need to negotiate new rights of access to pasture and water points with local actors and therefore become involved in local governance dynamics they know little about. However, the relationship between pastoral mobility and conflict is not that straightforward.

The main cause of conflict is the destruction of crops by pastoralists’ cattle and the obstruction of transhumance routes and corridors by farmland encroachment. These are points of friction common to West Africa and the Sahel, but in the past these issues seldom escalated into violent conflict in Burkina Faso.[109] The simplistic narrative oversees that these are not haphazard movements, but the result of a decision-making process dictated by a vast array of spatio-temporal variables. Furthermore, transhumance trajectories are built around complex networks and long-standing social and economic relations – for example relying on the Rouga, the Garso and various traditional mediating actors to negotiate access to resources.

3.3 Pastoralists’ adaptation and resilience: voices from the field

From our interviews, we distinguished different variables including access to natural resources (pasture and water points), the accessibility of corridors and grazing sites and the facility of passage (e.g. the distribution of cropped fields), rainfall, the hospitality of the host communities, administrative requirements, previous knowledge of corridors and grazing sites, market requirements (e.g. the owner wanting to sell cows and asking the herders to return to their home territory.), and security considerations. Defending themselves against this stigmatising narrative, some pastoralists also stressed that avoiding conflict is a key strategy in their decision-making, referring to the Fulani concept of hiding (suu’da) and other sorts of avoidance strategies, a behaviour that in the past has also been attributed specifically to the Fulani by anthropologists. The restricted and adjusted patterns of mobility that have been detected in the past – of which some examples are given above – can however be regarded as preventive response strategies to counter security risks, stressing the role of mobility as a key coping mechanism to face old and new constraints. But what happens when conflict makes it too dangerous to travel on these traditional journeys?

In the case of conflicts with other resource users such as farmers, these frictions are usually resolved at the local level and fees are paid, or slight detours are made around communities where these conflicts might occur, and these have been relatively efficient coping mechanisms. However, faced with unprecedented violence by both state security forces and extremist armed groups, pastoralists feel helpless and indicate that the different negotiating mechanisms are useless. New security threats are affecting the decision-making process of pastoralists on transhumance, as security has become a decisive factor that overshadows other spatio-temporal considerations. Pastoralists in Gayeri explained how insecurity is so important in their area that it now trumps every other decision-making variable, and eventually dictates the conditions of transhumance more than access to resources does.[110]

Exposure to herd loss, bandits, corrupt government officials, and crop damage payments are some of the many variables that used to influence the cost-benefit calculation.[111] What is new, however, is the nature and level of the security risks in the equation. Insecurity has become the main decision-making factor – further disrupting the mobility of pastoralists. Different coping mechanisms were mentioned which included slight deviations when corridors are occupied by other actors – generally farmers illegally occupying cattle tracks, using new information systems to gain security information or relying on the Rouga to protect them.[112] However, when faced with the many security risks, and the absence of alternative routes, only a minority of the pastoralists we interviewed were still able and willing to embark on transhumance and they have become completely immobilised.

They face a reduced freedom of movement, and with it their resilience to shocks. As pastoralists in Gayeri put it, “there is no space left to avoid armed groups, if you try another route, you will end up in the fields, damaging crops and creating conflict because everything is occupied.”[113] In Gangaoual in the Sahel pastoralists indicated that they have abandoned transhumance for almost 4 years because of insecurity, and while they used to travel to pasture-rich areas like the Beli River region of the Tin Akoff commune, they now prefer to stay in their home territory to forage and feed their animals with what is available. This is having a strong impact on traditional pastoral livelihoods. Many young pastoralists are pessimistic with regard to the future of transhumance when they analyse the current situation where many have fled to other countries or have become IDPs having to leave their herd behind, or when they have become sedentary shepherds of other people’s cattle in a more intensive system.[114]

Cross-border transhumance into Mali and Niger has in effect entirely disappeared because of the conflict and is described by all as something “from another era”.[115] In the Sahel region, the main corridors from Séno, Oudalan and Yagha to Niger (commune du Gorouol et de Terra) and Mali (commune de Tessit / cercle d’Ansongo) have been deserted. In the Boucle du Mouhon, the route from Barani to Segou in Mali has been completely deserted for more than 4 years and the centre of Mali is inaccessible to transhumant pastoralists. At the same time, cross-border transhumance into Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo and Ghana faces a completely different situation.

Being “pulled” by lower levels of insecurity, and pushed by constraints they face in Burkina Faso, many pastoralists now move southwards into these coastal countries. For some this has resulted in a permanent relocation. The relocation of pastoralists and their animals create pressure on natural resources in these countries and as such the risk of conflict. Pastoralists are considered to be foreigners and invaders and face a difficult time in integrating.[116] If they damage crops, pastoralists highlight that they find themselves in a very precarious situation, because unlike in Burkina Faso where they can rely on extended family networks as well as the Rouga, the Garso and various traditional actors, there they are alone. This is a fertile breeding ground for VEOs which are slowly but certainly infiltrating these countries, seeking new development areas. Similarly to Burkina Faso, where conflicts are more intense when it concerns ‘foreign’ pastoralists transiting while on transhumance, Burkinabe pastoralists moving south also face such stigmatization and injustice.[117]

The pastoralists in this research who are moving or used to move to the coastal states on transhumance quote harassment by armed forces, being accused of being terrorists and often facing arbitrarily arrests and imprisonment as a consequence. Particularly the young herders feel they are stigmatized as terrorists target them for recruitment and the Burkinabe Defence and Security Forces perceive them as terrorists. Furthermore, while possessing national and international ECOWAS certificates as transhumance pastoralists, they still face many instances of extorsion, fines and harassment as not every country seems to respect ECOWAS agreements.

COVID-19 has proved to be an additional stress factor when borders have been closed as a measure to contain the spread of the virus. To conclude, in fighting for their survival, mobility poses a major challenge for pastoralists. Mobility is a necessary aspect both for resilience but also for the sustainability of a sector that has important economic value in the region, providing an income to many – often poor – households who move in the margins of society. While pastoral mobility is often directly associated with conflict, restrictions seem to have given way to even more and new conflict lines.

3.4 Conclusion

This section has demonstrated that while already being in a disadvantaged position, pastoralists seem to be the only ones whose place in the chain and the margins they make are negatively affected by the effects of mounting insecurity and violence. Transhumance – which constitutes the driving force of economic integration in the region – has become virtually impossible for many. While pastoral mobility has been challenged by different factors such as environmental deterioration, the encroachment of farmland into grazing areas and policies favouring the intensification of cattle production through the sedentarization of livestock production, insecurity is now overshadowing other spatio-temporal considerations that have long dictated the decision-making process of transhumance.

The most important markets that supply the export market of Fada N’Gourma are : Namoungou, Piéga, Tamalbougou, Matiacoali, Natiabonli, Nagré, Yamba, Tibga, Diabo, Kompienga, Koualou, Tambado, Gayéri, Haba, Foutouri, Diapaga, Namounou, Sakouani and Nanponli.
The most important markets are in Djibo, Seytenga, Gorom-Gorom, Déou, Mansila and Dori.
Group interview with butchers in Fada, East Region, July 2020; Group interview with livestock traders, brokers, butchers, and pastoralists in Béna, Boucle du Mouhoun, August 2020.
Focus group discussion at the Béna market, Boucle du Mouhoun, August 2020.
Focus group discussion at the Béna market, Boucle du Mouhoun, August 2020. 1 Euro equals 656 CFA.
Exchange with a broker’s assistant at the Fada market, East Region, July 2020; Interview with Maïga Kolodo, President of the Barkè Association, East Region, July 2020.
Interview with a cattle exporter, Treasurer of UPCEB/F, East Region, July 2020; Interviews with cattle exporters in Fada, East Region, July 2020.
Interview with Bandé Boukari, cattle exporters, Vice-President of UPCEB/F, East Region, July 2020.
Interview with Augustine Ayatunde, ILRI Burkina Faso, October 2019.
Simonet, C., Traoré, S., Brunelin, S. and L. Royer. 2020. Livestock markets in the Sahel: market integration and the role of climate and conflict in price formation.
Nori, M., Scoones, I. 2019. ‘Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience: Global Lessons from the Margins’. Pastoralism 9(1): p. 10.
At Fada market for example, there are 32 brokers assisted by 4 assistant brokers and they are organized in an association (Barkè) with 165 members including 20 women.
The MODHEM project works to improve the incomes of pastoralists and farmers’ households in Burkina Faso by providing access to reliable geo-satellite-based data. It is a telephone information system providing pastoralists with detailed information on biomass and water availability and quality, herd concentrations, weather information and market prices.
Interview with ILRI Burkina Faso, Augustine Ayatunde, October 2019.
Interview with Diallo Salou, pastor, President of RECOPA in Fada, East Region, July 2020.
IIRR and CTA. 2013. Moving herds, moving markets: Making markets work for African pastoralists. Nairobi: International Institute of Rural Reconstruction and Wageningen: the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.
Focus group discussion with pastoralists Fada, East region, 8 December 2019.
The latest armed attack on a livestock market was in Namoungou on 7 August this year, killing around 20 people.
Interview with Maïga Kolado, broker, President of the Barkè association in Fada, East Region, July 2020.
Focus group discussions with pastoralists 2019.
Interview with Augusting Ayantunde, ILRI Burkina Faso, 2019. Informal talks at Ouagadougou livestock market, 2019.
Interview with Bandé Hamidou, pastor, President of the Rougas in Fada, July 2020. Rougas are traditional representatives of Fulani pastoralists. Today they function as a security initiative dealing with cattle thefts and extorsion that pastoralist communities experience.
Interview with Fada livestock market officials, East Region, July 2020.
Humanitarian Response. ‘Burkina Faso: Plan de Réponse Humanitaire révisé.’
UNOWAS. 2018. Pastoralism and Security in West Africa and the Sahel: Towards Peaceful Coexistence.
Scoones, I. 2020. ‘Pastoralists and peasants: perspectives on agrarian change’. The Journal of Peasant Studies: p. 1-47.
FAO. 2001. Pastoralism in the new millennium. Rome: FAO.; SWAC/OECD. 2007. Promoting and supporting change in transhumant pastoralism in the Sahel and West Africa. Paris: SWAC-OECD.
Ayantunde, A.A., Asse, R., Said, M.Y. and Fall, A. 2014. ‘Transhumant pastoralism, sustainable management of natural resources and endemic ruminant livestock in the sub-humid zone of West Africa’. Environment, development and sustainability 16(5): p. 1097-1117.
Somda, R. and D. Ilboudo. 2018. ‘Pastoral livestock farming in Burkina Faso’. Panorama.
Tondel, P. 2019. Dynamiques régionales des filières d’élevage en Afrique de l’Ouest : Étude de cas centrée sur la Côte d’Ivoire dans le bassin commercial central. Maastricht: ECDPM.
Benoit, M. 1978. ‘Pastoralism and migration, the Paul de Barani and Dokin (Upper Volta)’. Etudes Rurales 70: p. 9-49.; Gonin, A. and Gautier, D. 2016. ‘Herders’ territorialities and social differentiation in Western Burkina Faso’. Nomadic Peoples 20(1), p. 62-87.
Kiéma, S., Fournier, A. 2007. ‘Utilisation de trois aires protégées par l’élevage extensif dans l’ouest du Burkina Faso’. In Quelles aires protégées pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest, IRD Éditions. p. 498-506.
Kiema, A., Tontibomma, G.B. and Zampaligré, N. 2014. ‘Transhumance and natural resource management in the Sahel: challenges and opportunities facing the mutations of pastoral production systems.’
VertigO-La Revue Electronique en Sciences de l’Environment 14(3) ; Ayantunde, A.A., Asse, R., Said, M.Y. and Fall, A. 2014. ‘Transhumant pastoralism, sustainable management of natural resources and endemic ruminant livestock in the sub-humid zone of West Africa’. Environment, development and sustainability 16(5): p. 1097-1117.
Audouin, S. and Gazull, L. 2014. ‘Spatial dynamics of an innovation system in Southern Burkina Faso’. LEspace geographique 43(1) : p. 35-50.
McIntire, J., Bourzat, D. and Prabhu, P. 1992. Crop-livestock interaction in sub-Saharan Africa. Washington DC: World Bank; Powell, J.M., Fernandez-Rivera, S., Williams, T.O., Renard, C. 1995. Livestock and sustainable nutrient cycling in mixed farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa. Volume II: Technical Papers. Addis Ababa: ILCA.; Boserup, E. 1965. The conditions of agricultural growth: The economics of agrarian change under population pressure. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.; Bourn, D., W. Wint. 1994. ‘Livestock, land use and agricultural intensification in sub-Saharan Africa’. London: Overseas Development Institute.
McGregor, A. 2017. ‘The Fulani Crisis: Communal Violence and Radicalization in the Sahel’. CTS Sentinel 10(2): p. 34-39.
UNOWAS. 2018. Pastoralism and Security in West Africa and the Sahel: Towards Peaceful Coexistence.
Focus group discussion with pastoralists in Gayeri, East region, 11 December 2019.
Turner, D. and Schlecht, E. 2019. ‘Livestock mobility in sub-Saharan Africa: A critical review’. Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 9(13).
In mid-2019, corridors in the East region had slightly shifted towards the Centre-East, starting in Fada and passing via Ouargay. But by the beginning of 2020, as the presence of violent extremist groups grew in the Centre-East, this corridor was gradually abandoned by pastoralists who found it too dangerous to use. Focus group discussion with pastoralists in Fada, East Region, 8 December 2019; Focus group discussion with pastoralist women in Bogande, East region, 9 December 2019.
Focus group discussion with pastoralists in Gayeri, East region, 10 December 2019.
Focus group discussions with young pastoralists, November – December 2019.
Focus group discussion with young pastoralists in Gangaoual, Sahel region, 31 January 2020; Focus group discussion with pastoralists in Saouga, Sahel region, 321 January 2020.
IFRI. 2019. Armed Violence in the Sahara. Are We Moving From Jihadism to Insurgency? In Ghana, for example, military operations have been employed to expel the Fulani, including settled communities that have been there for generations, from Ghana. An example is Operation Cowleg, which was launched in the 1990s and has witnessed some revival since then, forcing Fulani herders across the border into Nigeria.
Focus group discussions with farmers and other resource users, November-December 2019; Focus group discussions with pastoralists, November – December 2019.