| Pastoral associations in Chad |
|4 The activities of the Ishtirak project|
In 3.1 it was mentioned that according to the views of Oxfam Chad, one of the axes along which pastoral development has to take place is the fight against environmental degradation. A very large amount of money is reserved for this purpose as the project will double the loan repayments of the PAs to constitute an environmental fund. At the end of 1990 there should have been officially approximately 12 million CFA in this funds (in reality it has not been doubled as yet) of which not even 1 CFA has been used.
In the first instance the project team was too occupied with getting the project going, and as no indications were given in the project document how to start on the subject it was left aside. In 1989-90 a long-term survey was carried out by the project. The result was a report on the agropastoralist production system and the use of the natural resources in the area (Ishtirak, 1991b). The objectives of the survey were:
- to analyse together with the PAs all aspects of the use and degradation of the natural resources in their area (water, pastures, agricultural fields, trees);
-- to begin serious discussions with the PAs concerned and other users of these natural resources in order to define possible interventions to improve the management of these natural resources and to slow down the environmental degradation.
The survey was completed in two regions involving four PAs. The two regions are very different in susceptibility to degradation but in both regions the conclusion was that the pastures are definitely degraded in quality and quantity. The degradation of quality is what worries the herders most of all. During the discussions the agro-pastoralists explained that the loss of quality pastures is what has caused the reduced fertility and productivity of the small ruminants. The cows are less affected but their milk production is now decreasing faster at the end of the rainy season. The decrease of the pastures' productivity is not a real problem for the agro-pastoralists as according to them this is only the result of bad rainy seasons, as in good years there is plenty of grass. However the decrease of desirable grass species is also visible in years with a good rainy season.
During discussions the agropastoralists tend to accuse the transhumant pastoralists of causing the degradation of the environment. The survey showed that this was partly true in one region but not at all in the other region.
The conclusion of the survey was that efforts to improve the management of the natural resources in the area should start with the agro-pastoralists as their continuous presence and demographic growth is causing increasing exploitation of the available natural resources. It was also recognised that it will be impossible for the agro-pastoralists in the area to depend only on natural pastures for the maintenance of their herds. Integration of animal and agricultural production and intensification and diversification of the agricultural production side will be indispensable in order to ensure the viability of the agro-pastoralist production system in the area.
The report suggests that the government should initiate a land-use plan which reserves the right of exploitation of a certain area around the villages and agro-pastoralist cattle camps to their inhabitants. Pastures and agricultural fields should be demarcated and the opening of new fields bound by very strict rules. All this is mainly the responsibility of the government. The report also gave several suggestions of ways for the project and the PAs to start working on the issue:
- rest periods of two to three years for degraded grazing areas;
- protection of heavily degraded areas with branches;
- regular meetings between all parties concerned in a region, agro-pastoralists, agriculturalists and pastoralists;
- activities to increase the integration of animal and agricultural production, such as increasing and improving the storage of agricultural by-products, and increasing the production of leguminous crops;
- planting of local fruit trees in the grazing areas and villages.
In 1990, two groups agreed to reserve part of their grazing, and a reasonable number of local tree species were planted in the area. As it was a very bad rainy season, the planned reservation of grazing was not carried out as there was no grazing to reserve.
It is questionable whether the subject of environmental degradation and the execution of the proposals lies within the scope and capacity of the project team and SECADEV at present, especially when it comes to such issues as the monitoring of pastures, discussions on grazing rights, and land rights.