| Pastoral associations in Chad |
|3 The original concept of the Ishtirak project|
3.1.1 The Chadian livestock sector
Chad has an animal population of about 3.8 million cattle, 4 million small ruminants and 500,000 camels (1986 estimates extrapolated since 1964 by the Ministry of Livestock, Chad). About 16 per cent of these cattle, 20 per cent of the small ruminants and 14 per cent of the camels are said to be found in the Batha province (where the Ishtirak project is based). But there are large variations in animal numbers between seasons, as the Batha contains many nomadic highways from north to south and the time the nomads spend in the Batha depends on the progress of the rainy season. It was also clear that the droughts of 1972-73 and 1983-85, and the rinderpest epidemic of 1984, had seriously affected the life of the pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the Sahelian zone of Chad. The preliminary report (Oxfam,1987) estimated the decline in animal numbers for the Sahelian zone in Chad at 27 per cent for 1975-1983 whilst the total animal population in the Sudanian zone of the country grew by 13.5 per cent over the same period. The total human population in the Sahelian zone declined during this period and many villages were abandoned, not only because of the drought but also the political insecurity in the region.
The World Bank estimated for 1979 (Anteneh, 1984) that the share of the Chadian livestock subsector to the agricultural GDP was 39 per cent (US$156m) and that in 1976/77 Chad spent only about 0.6 per cent (US$0.92m) of its livestock GDP on animal health (respectively highest and lowest of the Sub-Saharan African countries). In 1989 the livestock sector in Chad contributed only US$4.2m (PNE report, 1989) to the national economy. There is definitely a decline in the importance of the livestock sector for the national economy since 1979 as a result of reduced beef exports. However, livestock and especially livestock products (milk, butter oil, draft) remain important for the local and household economy. This can be illustrated by the fact that the number of cattle per person is 1.3 for Chad against an average of 0.5 for Africa (FAO, 1987).
3.1.2 Oxfam Chad
When Oxfam opened its office in Chad in February 1986, the great importance of the livestock sector for Chad was recognised and a Pastoral Development Adviser was attached to the office in order to research the possibilities for Oxfam's involvement in the livestock sub-sector. Oxfam Chad was very much interested in making a positive contribution towards the problems of the livestock sector in Chad. According to Oxfam's view, given the economic, ecological and social context of Chad, there were two principal axes along which pastoral development had to pass:
- organisation of the populations in order to achieve participation in the development process;
- the fight against environmental degradation.
Oxfam Chad was interested in testing a new approach on a small scale (in terms of investment and personnel) in a flexible project. After several field visits the Batha province was identified as the project area When the preliminary study was carried out in the latter half of 1986, Oum-Hadjer Sous-prefecture was chosen as the project area for several reasons, including the fact that no other agencies were intervening in the area; Oum-Hadjer has a very important cattle market; it is the business centre for the Batha; and important transhumance routes pass through Oum-Hadjer. The agro-pastoralists in the area were identified as the target group.
The project agreement with the Ministry of Livestock was signed in March 1987 and the project actually started in June 1987 with the installation of Oxfam's project co-ordinator in OumHadjer. The project was named 'Ishtirak', meaning 'association' in Arabic.