Burkina Faso


We often read in pastoralism literature that, as Fratkin and Mearns wrote, “Pastoralists occupy savannahs, arid deserts and high plateaus where rain-fed agriculture is precarious” (2003:112). One of the strengths of this specialised livelihood is that it typically thrives in lands that are too marginal for other production systems (HESSE and MACGREGOR 2006; NORI et al., 2008).

However, over the past century in West Africa, especially in Burkina Faso and the coastal countries, pastoralist families have migrated from Sahelian to Sudanian zones.

In northern Burkina Faso, pastoralism has a history of several centuries (KINTZ 1986; BANZHAF et al., 2000a; BERGERET 1999); it has experienced many changes over the last century, including: in climate and ecology; a transition from a generally more nomadic and exclusive pastoralism to a less mobile agro-pastoralism; a migration of many communities to the south; and significant transfer of livestock, especially cattle, off the property of the pastoralist, but not out of his management.

Today, this specialised livelihood, which still raises the vast majority of the cattle in Burkina Faso, seems to be at a crossroads, especially in the south of the country. Climate, environmental, demographic, socioeconomic and political changes are exerting pressure on pastoralism in the Sudanian agro-ecological systems (DONGMO et al., 2012; GONIN and GAUTIER 2015; VALL et al., 2006).

  Pastoralists are discussing amongst themselves how best to move forward.  They are trying to align their understanding of government discourse with their customary practices and knowledge that they have been passing down for generations. To say that these practices and knowledge are customary (or traditional) does not mean that they never change; in fact, men and women continually adapt their practices to the changes around them. But the convergence of today’s rapid changes is threatening these adaptations and pastoralism, in particular in Burkina and West Africa, more than ever before in history.

In the past, pastoralists in Burkina Faso used to live in the Sahelian zone along the country’s northern border. During the last century, driven by politics, droughts, and the recurrent droughts (especially those of 1972-73 and 1983-84), conflicts and the expansion of crop fields, many pastoral families have moved to the south of the country. They have found uncultivated areas and relatively abundant in natural resources, in this Sudanian zone.

As the area was gradually cleared of the tsetse flies responsible for trypanosomiasis, new vaccines as well as crossbreeding of zebus with native bulls also gave cattle a certain immunity to the disease.

Initially enthusiastically welcomed by their native hosts, the relations deteriorated later as populations, including immigrant farmers, grew.

Access to water and pasture became less secure, and violent conflict increased.

Research work led by the authors between 2009 and 2016 as well as the literature review gives an illustration of the situation of pastoralists in Burkina Faso.

When pastoral communities in the Sudanian zone talk about their concerns for the future, they are worried rather about the lack of rainfall and its consequences; but their major concerns are about access to natural resources, the expansion of croplands and urban areas which

occupy the pastures and obstruct access routes to good pastures, and land tenure conflicts.

To address these problems, the government is promoting Pastoral Developed Zones or ZAPs, which are developed under the aegis of the Ministry of Animal Resources (MRA) to serve as “poles of excellence” and refuges for pastoral communities and their cattle.

But unlike other Sahelian countries, where pastoral zones are located north of the agricultural area, Burkina Faso’s pastoral zones are landlocked across the country, all surrounded by fields, urban areas, or national reserves.

The ZAPs in the Sudanian zones are particularly difficult to manage, and relatively few pastoralists can find resources for their livestock there.


The current situation is marked by land tenure problems, natural resource degradation, and conflict between pastoralists and farmers, between pastoralists and environmental officers, and between pastoralists and artisanal gold miners (GREENOUGH 2016; GREENOUGH and NEYA 2016; ZAMPALIGRÉ et al., 2013; 2014; ZAMPALIGRÉ 2012; ZAMPALIGRÉ et al., 2017a; ZAMPALIGRÉ et al., 2017b).

While some people see optimistic cases for adaptation and even intensification of pastoralism in Sudanian areas (MORITZ et al., 2009; DONGMO et al., 2007), the scientific literature and media are also full of cases of problems of access to resources and conflicts in Sudanian and Guinean zones (FIELMUA et al., 2014; HOCHET and GUISSOU 2010; ROBERT 2010; TOUTAIN et al., 2004; SYLLA 2012; KAM 2014).

In the Sudanian areas of Burkina Faso where the climate and ecology are more favourable to agricultural production, pastoral and farming communities, decentralized government technical services, and civil society organisations supporting pastoralism, are all engaged in an activity that is condemned by some and adulated by others, especially the stockbreeders and pastoralists.



Status of planned infrastructures and facilities

Types of infrastructure Indicators Quantity Location
Component 3-Infrastructure
1 Securing livestock tracks Track length 120 km In the process of identification
Regions : Est / Cascades / Sud-ouest / Ht-Bassins
2 Development of resting/grazing areas Number of Resting/grazing areas 4 * Louanga
* In the process of identification
3 Provision of water points Number of water points (ponds, boreholes, wells, dams,…) 3


* Bogandé
* In the process of identification
4 Construction of loading docks Number of loading docks 1 In the process of identification
5 Establishment of livestock feeds Livestock feed quantities 265 metric tonnes
6 Construction of warehouses Number of warehouses 4 * Ouo * Tambiga * Sapkoani * Identification in progress


Status of projected soft activities

Types of activities Indicators Quantity
Component 3-Infrastructures
1 Facilitation of informed debates Number of debates 6
2 Map production Number of maps 3
3 Setting up inter-community groups Number of inter-community groups 1
4 Infrastructure and facility management committee training Number of management committee trainings 6
5 Organisation of exchange visits Number of exchange visits 2
6 Organisation of technical and budget review workshops Technical and budgetary review workshops of local communities 6
7 General public dissemination of the technical and budgetary review workshop results Number of Radio announcements 6
Component 2-Dialogue
8 Organisation of cross-border consultation meetings to prevent and manage conflicts in areas that have no consultation frameworks in place Number of meetings involving RPOs at cross-border, national and regional levels


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 55
10 Advocacy to ensure that transhumance and nutrition issues are taken into account in country strategies, investment plans and budget allocations, and in MDPs or municipal development plans. Number of municipal, regional or national plans integrating proposals for the development of facilities for a peaceful transhumance (in connection with the achievements of Component 3) 1
11 Training and information of farmers and stockbreeders on the texts regulating transhumance. Number of leaders of farmers, stockbreeders and transhumance stakeholders who have received training on transhumance regulations


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) 2
13 Experimentation of a legal assistance system Number of pastoralists and farmers who have received legal assistance (as needed)





Intra-country and cross-border transhumance is regulated by a range of laws, decrees, orders, decisions and regulations taken at the municipal, national and international levels. There are local, municipal, national and regional texts.

The State of Burkina Faso is cooperating with neighbouring States for sustainable pastoral development at the regional level, particularly in the areas of animal health, transhumance, marketing, the security of transhumants, their property and dispute settlement.

The Government and local authorities guarantee pastoralists the right of access to pastoral areas, the right to equitable use of natural resources and the mobility of herds. The Government and local authorities are also taking the necessary measures to improve the productive performance and quality of pastoral livestock farming. In particular, they are creating the conditions for securing pastoral activities and protecting animal health; they encourage and support activities to improve animal feed.

As part of the regional planning policy, the Government and local authorities ensure identification, protection and development of pastoral areas. In particular, in the context of the development of peri-urban areas, the Government and local authorities reserve spaces necessary for the pursuit and development of livestock farming activities. They also ensure the preservation and protection of traditional pastoral areas. In particular, they promote the preservation of the pastoral vocation of the lowlands and “bourgou” areas in pastoral regions.

In the event of a duly-established livestock feed crisis by the government, the Council of Ministers may, by decree, authorise the temporary opening of certain classified forests for animal grazing. The decree authorising the exceptional opening of each forest shall specify the particular restrictions applicable to the said forest. A joint decree of the ministers in charge of livestock, forestry, water, land use planning and land administration shall specify the modalities of access to classified forests open to grazing in the event of a livestock feed crisis.

The Minister in charge of livestock, in collaboration with the relevant Ministers, shall take all measures likely to encourage and facilitate the organisation, information and training of pastoralists. In addition, he shall take all appropriate measures to promote information sharing and circulation for the proper conduct of livestock development actions and programmes.


  • Sahel Regional Pastoralism Support Project (PRAPS), in progress;
  • Programme for the development of sustainable pastoralism in the Sahel (PDPDS), in progress;
  • 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;
  • Pastoral Mobility and Security in the Sahel (MOPSS), in progress;
  • Integrated and Secure Livestock and Pastoralism Project (PEPISAO).


Mr Lucien NANEMA is the transhumance focal point for PREDIP and represents the Ministry of Animal and Fishery Resources of Burkina Faso. Within this Ministry, he is the Director of Pastoral Space Security within the General Directorate of Pastoral Space Development and Security.