Settlement schemes for herders in the sub-humid tropics of West Africa: Issues of land rights and ethnicity

Research reports and studies
February 1985
Clare Oxby

Attempts at settling or sedentarizing nomadic herders in semi-arid and arid regions have been largely unsuccessful, partly on account of the difficulty of restricting the movements of domestic livestock in areas where low and irregular rainfall lead to scant and unreliable sources of water and grazing. But for the herders in sub-humid regions, where both water and vegetation resources are much more reliable and substantial, there appear to be different possibilities. This article evaluates the experience of a number of recent initiatives to settle nomadic herders in the subhumid zone of West Africa. In practice, however, numerous problems have been encountered and these are all the more striking in view of the general trend of migration towards and settlement in this region, by crop farmers and herders alike, which is independent of any state-planned initiative.

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