Transhumance, natural resources, and conflict in the Sahel: a pilot project


Project Code:

Start Date:

End Date:

CRSP Phase:
Phase 1




Lead University:

Other Partners:
Association pour le Developpement Integre dans la Savane et le Sahel (ADISSAH); Centre d'etudes pour la Promotion Agropastorale (CEPAP); Colorado State University Institut Polytechnique Rural Recherche d'Initiatives et de Cooperation pour un Developpement Communautaire et Autonome (RICAD); Universite de Bamako; U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation System

Principal Investigator(s):
Niall Hanan

Co-Principal Investigator(s):
Lara Prihodko (Co-Principal Investigator); Fadiala Dembele (Co-Principal Investigator); Moussa Karembe (Co-Principal Investigator); Ibrahim Barry (Co-Principal Investigator); Mamadou Diarra (Co-Principal Investigator); G. Gray Tappan (Co-Principal Investigator)


Pastoral and agricultural systems, and pastoral and agricultural livelihoods, are tightly coupled and interdependent in West Africa. However, conflict is on the rise between pastoralists and agriculturalists, particularly in regions where agricultural land is scarce and encroaching on traditional transhumance corridors. This 1-year pilot study will develop key methodologies for mapping the location, status and current utilization of transhumance corridors, and how they relate to changing agricultural land use. Extensive field surveys will be carried out in Mali (along primary transhumance axes in the Nioro-Nara-Diema-Baoule-Kita and Inland Delta regions of the administrative Regions of Koulikoro, Segou and Mopti) as the basis for methodological development, and then use remote sensing to scale to other regions of Mali and the wider Sahel. The pilot project will prepare the way for a longer term study of pastoral livelihoods in the region as impacted by changing climate, demography, agricultural land use and socioeconomic conditions. Working with an interdisciplinary team of Malian and U.S. researchers, educators and non-governmental organizations (NGO) the research will focus on analysis of current and future constraints on pastoral livelihoods, and agricultural-pastoral conflict avoidance, where transhumance corridors and availability of agricultural land, together with access to water and grazing lands, constitute key resources, and key resource-based flash-points. Results from the pilot and the longer term study will provide invaluable information that natural resource managers, policy and decision makers at local, regional and national levels, and directly benefit the region via opportunities for preemptive intervention to reduce and avoid conflict between pastoral and agro-pastoral communities.


1. Quantify and map the actual and changing spatial and temporal distributions of transhumance movements in the 2. Sahelian-Sudanian region and analyze herder response to climate variability and change 3.Develop methods for detecting and mapping transhumance corridors using remote sensing and geospatial analysis techniques 4. Train Malian partners in geospatial analysis, remote sensing and pattern detection Integrate preliminary transhumance corridor maps for the wider Sahel with land-use change and agricultural expansion analysis 5. Improve understanding of physical and social conditions, coupled with a strong partnership of U.S. and Malian educators, researchers and practitioners, to carry forward the products of the pilot project to develop a comprehensive study of West African transhumance corridors with applications for reducing the economic and ecological vulnerability of pastoral communities and avoiding pastoral-agricultural conflict in systems impacted by climate and socioeconomic change


Coming soon

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