Transhumance began in Benin with the migration of the Fulani communities, which continue to practice transhumance. It is in 1905 that animal husbandry notes in the “former Dahomey” first mentioned transhumance in a report on a contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia epidemic that transhumant animals in the region of Segbana contracted from animals from Boussa (Nigeria).
The report indicated that “these transhumance movements are a threat to the ‘Dahomean’ livestock. Should we stop them?” Even today, we still continue to talk about transhumance and to ask the same question. According to Pecaud (1912), the majority of Fulanis in Benin originated from the Fouta Djallon.
They settled in Benin a very long time ago, according to notes on animal husbandry in “Ex-Dahomey”; but for Lombard (1957), it was in the 18th century. The history of transhumance practice cannot be dissociated from the customs of the Fulani populations (Atchy, 1976). Prior to the 1970s, the movements of Sahelian pastoralists to wetter areas were mainly due to the saturation of pastoral areas rather than to the recurrent droughts.
The climatic problem with the water deficit and fodder decrease emerged from the 1970s, leading to large movements of pastoralists towards the southern Sahel (Bernus, 1995). According to Renard (2010), one key to understanding these reactions, is to take into account the symbolic and social value of the herd amongst Fulanis, but also the other people’s view.
Bernus (1995) notes that the first scientific writings on the phenomenon of multiple activities amongst Fulani herders, as well as on their sedentarization, were found in the 1980s.
Pastoral animal husbandry is increasingly becoming a job-providing sector in the economy of Benin. According to the statistics of the Livestock Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP) (Benin), pastoral livestock farming occupies more than 10% of Benin’s pastoral population.
In terms of contribution, it has reached a rate of 17%. Benin is indeed a transit country that annually receives thousands of head of cattle from the Sahel to Greater Nigeria. As a result, Benin receives the transhumants that most often animate the livestock markets.
Despite its strengths, there are real problems that are hampering the take-off of this breeding. We can note the impacts of climate change. There is also the pressure on spaces, and mobility is increasingly limited. Yet the very essence of the pastoral system is mobility, meaning that the animals in search of water and pasture must move around.
In addition, there is growing intolerance between the different actors due to impoverishment. The fourth factor relates to conflicts often of criminal origin faced by countries in the West Africa sub-region, particularly Benin.
Transhumance, which was known as a seasonal back-and-forth movement from one region to another, has become a large movement that is gradually turning into migration. That is to say, transhumants come and settle. They spend two or three years without returning.
KEY PREDIP ACTIVITIES IN BENIN
Status of planned infrastructures and facilities
|N°||Types of activities||Indicators||Quantity||Location|
|1||Securing livestock tracks||Track length||95 km||In the process of identification
Départements: Atacora Donga / Collines
|2||Development of resting areas||Number of resting areas||7||* In the process of identification|
|3||Provision of water points||Number of water points (ponds, boreholes, wells, dams,…)||5||* Cobly
* In the process of identification
|4||Construction of livestock markets||Number of livestock markets||1||* Département of Donga / Municipality of Djougou / Bougou|
|5||Construction of loading docks||Number of loading docks||1||In the process of identification|
Status of projected soft activities
|N°||Types of activities||Indicators||Quantity|
|1||Informed debate facilitation||Number of debates||12
|2||Map production||Number of maps||4|
|3||Setting up inter-community groups||Number of inter-community groups set up||1|
|4||Infrastructure and facilities Management Committee training||Number of Management Committee trainings||3|
|5||Organisation of exchange visits||Number of exchange visits||2|
|6||Organisation of technical and budgetary review workshops||Technical and budgetary review workshops for local communities
|7||Wide dissemination of the technical and budgetary review workshop results||Number of Radio announcements||6|
|8||Organisation of cross-border consultation meetings to prevent and manage conflicts in areas that do not have any consultation framework in place
|Number of meetings involving RPOs at cross-border, national and regional levels||8|
|9||Organisation of annual high-level meetings on peaceful transhumance by the RPO consultation framework||Number of participants in cross-border meetings, framework/committee meetings and national committees and gender composition
|10||Advocacy to ensure that transhumance and nutrition issues are taken into account in country strategies, investment plans and budget allocations, and in MDPs, i.e., municipal development plans.||Number of municipal, regional or national plans integrating development proposals for peaceful transhumance (in connection with the achievements of Component 3)||1|
|11||Training and information of farmers and herders on the texts regulating transhumance.
|Number of leaders of farmers, herders and transhumance actors who received training on the texts||10|
|12||Development of a cross-border dialogue facilitation module, based on the analysis of gaps between law and practice.
|Number of facilitators trained in cross-border dialogue facilitation within the RPOs (10/RPO)||5|
|13||Experimentation of a legal assistance system||Number of pastoralists and farmers who received legal assistance (as needed)||20|
TRANSHUMANCE REGULATIONS (LEGAL DOCUMENTS)
Intra-country and cross-border transhumance is regulated by a range of laws, decrees, orders, decisions and regulations at the municipal, national and international levels. There is a lot of confusion related to the content, the overall consistency, the popularization of these legally established texts, to the level of understanding of the actors, their enforcement and their repeal or not (Djohy, 2010).
The town halls of all the municipalities concerned by the phenomenon of transhumance take orders to regulate transhumance on their territories. We can cite: Order No. 54/024/MKDI/SG/SGA/SA of July 27, 2006, on the Creation, Composition and Functioning of the Communal Transhumance Committee of the Municipality of Kandi; Order No. 014/M-CKM/SG/BAGD of October 1, 2004, regulating the grazing pasture, the keeping of domestic animals and transhumance in the Municipality of Karimama; Order N°16/M-CKM/SG/BAGD of October 20, 2004, on the Creation, Responsibilities and Functioning of Communal, District and Village Committees for the Prevention and Management of Pastoralist-Farmer Conflicts in the Municipality of Karimama and Order N°54/024/MOI/SG/SGA/SA of September 16, 2009, on the Creation, Composition and Functioning of the Communal Transhumance Committee of the Municipality of Ouinhi.
At the national level, the texts that regulate transhumance are: Act n°87-013 of September 21, 1987 regulating the grazing pasture, the keeping of domestic animals and transhumance; the inter-ministerial decree 1992-N°010/MISAT/MDR/D-CAB of January 20, 1992, on the creation, organisation, attributions and functioning of transhumance committees in the Republic of Benin; Act No. 93-009 of 2 July 1993 on the forest regime in the Republic of Benin and Decree No. 96-271 of 2 July 1996 on the implementation of Act No. 93-009 of 2 July 1993; Order 1994 N° 0039/MISAT/MDR/DGAR of 2 July 1994 on the organisation of transhumance 1993-1994; Act N° 2002-016 of 18 October 2004 on the Wildlife regime in the Republic of Benin (with no implementing decree); Inter-ministerial Order 2006- N°2176/MAEP/MSPCL/D-CAB/SGM/DRH/DE/SA of July 7, 2006 making it compulsory to vaccinate animals against Haemorrhagic Septicaemia and Contagious Peripneumonia in cattle throughout the national territory and Decree N° 2009-241 of June 9, 2009 establishing the committee to resolve recurrent problems of transhumance between Fulani herders and farmers on the national territory.
In addition, there is the pastoral code of Benin adopted in April 2019 which now governs all transhumance and pastoralism activities in Benin.
OTHER PASTORALISM PROJECTS IN BENIN
- Regional Investment Programme for the Development of Livestock and Pastoralism in Coastal Countries (PRIDEC), being finalised
- Support Programme for Livestock Marketing in West Africa (Programme d’appui à la commercialisation du bétail en Afrique de l’Ouest, Phase I (PACBAO), in progress;
- Regional Education/Training Programme for Pastoralist Populations in Cross-Border Areas (PREPP), in progress.
TRANSHUMANCE FOCAL POINT
Mr WOLOU Olawolé is the transhumance focal point for PREDIP and represents the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP) of Benin. He is the Head of the Division of Pastoral and Environmental Resource Management and Transhumance Focal Point within the MAEP.