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close this book Pastoral associations in Chad
close this folder 2 Pastoral organisations
View the document 2.1 Origin and philosophy
View the document 2.2 Classification of pastoral organisations

2.2 Classification of pastoral organisations

The definition of a pastoral organisation by Sihm (1989), which comes nearest to the reality of the Ishtirak project is: a legally-recognised voluntary association of pastoral livestock owners, who use a common area for grazing and frequent the same water points, for the purpose of managing natural resources and for the procurement of inputs and services and the selling of products. Sandford (1983) suggests classifying pastoral organisations according to their approach. However, the most important feature of pastoral organisations is the fact that the herders determine their priorities according to their needs and opportunities. Therefore the approach will not be static but will change over time. This is the case in the Ishtirak project which started with a sectorial approach (animal production) and is slowly adopting an integrated approach (human health, natural resource management, agriculture, marketing). The classification of pastoral organisations as suggested by Swift (personal communication, 1991) is probably a more simple and useful one, based on traditional versus non-traditional organisation and government-based versus nongovernmental organisations. The pastoral associations within the Ishtirak project could then be defined as non-traditional, nongovernmental pastoral organisations.

2.2.1 Traditional structures versus new structures

Existing social systems are often abolished by governments on the ground that they are conservative and ill-adapted to modern needs, and that the leadership is corrupt and exploitative (Sandford, 1983). Swift and Bonfiglioli (1984) stated also that the lineage and status-group structure of most Sahelian pastoral societies make them in most cases neither appropriate nor effective to become the institutional framework through which pastoral development can take place. They suggest creating new structures based on existing socio-economic functional units of 15-30 families. These units are the ones that already co-operate in the daily activities and decisions of pastoral life and are therefore the ideal base for pastoral development. In a later phase these small structures can then co-operate on a higher level to form unions. This approach was tested in the Niger Range and Livestock Project from 1979-1983 (Swift and Bonfiglioli, 1984) and used as the basis for the original concept of the Ishtirak project.

Sandford (1983) argues that new structures will be relatively unpredictable since, even if many of the same individuals are involved as in the old organisations, they will be less confident about procedures and functions, and less bound by old rules and obligations. However, this last fact can also be seen as an advantage; the old leaders with their experience and authority are still in power but in the context of the new organisation there are fewer possibilities for them to become exploitative or corrupt. To illustrate this last statement, the Ishtirak project had one experience with a PA consisting of pastoralists where the traditional chief was chosen (!) as president of the association, and very soon it was clear that he considered the PA and the activities as his. Several members of the group, headed by the pare-vet, demanded democratic decision making, and in the end the chief had to give in, because the internal rules of the PA, which everyone had accepted, required this.

It is also sometimes said that the risk of new organisations is that they are taken over by the newly-privileged educated class (Sandford, 1983). This can also have a positive impact, as we see in East Africa (e.g. KIPOC in Tanzania) where educated men from agro-pastoral backgrounds are being asked by their relatives to assist in the building up of local NGOs and/or pastoral organisations.

Turning to gender issues, women often have their own informal structures. For example, in the Ishtirak project most women PAs were led by women who already carried out leadership roles within the community; they were leaders during religious celebrations, healers, or relatives of male leaders. Building on such traditional leadership roles demands careful research.

The general tendency in current development thinking is that rural organisations should partially be built on traditional structures, but only after thorough research to make sure that these structures are not oppressive, destructive, or exploitative. The most important factor is a constant dialogue with the community and discussion as to how traditional structures can develop to be more adapted to present problems and needs. Careful research should also be carried out to find out how the traditional structures function and how existing activities can be made use of.

2.2.2 Government-based structures versus structures

These days not only non-governmental organisations but also governments, encouraged by international donors such as the World Bank and UN institutions, are becoming interested in grassroots organisations They have begun to realise that the very expensive, large-scale initiatives organised through government institutions have not had the expected impact on pastoral development (a phenomenon which has also been observed in other development sectors).

The questions arises as to whether government and international institutions are too distant and lack the flexibility necessary to engage in the 'dialogue with the community' approach as suggested in 2.2.1. Generally speaking, government personnel, especially at grassroots level, have never been involved in development thinking but were only required to carry out their administrative and technical tasks. For example, in Chad, the World Bank Programme (PNE) has set itself the difficult task of transforming the governmental veterinary service into a more community-oriented service. In their pilot zone they have planned that pastoral organisations should become the spearhead of pastoral development. But, in the field, most of the veterinary assistants do not originate from the area, hardly speak the local language, and seldom make field visits, and are therefore not familiar with the local situation and constraints. Their main tasks had been vaccinations, taxing of unauthorised slaughtering, and selling of veterinary drugs. It will be difficult for these employees to become the animators of the pastoral organisations And even if they become reasonably good animators they cannot be expected to stay in the post forever. This situation is not unique for Chad or for the veterinary service, but can be seen in more or less similar contexts for most government services in developing countries. Another problem with having government personnel as animators is that each department will have its own groups with their own diversity of activities, as was already the case in Chad.

The Ishtirak project, as it had some freedom as an NGO, always insisted on having locallyrecruited animators for the PAs, and involving the government veterinary assistants within these PAs to carry out their technical tasks. In the Ishtirak project the veterinary assistants work quite closely with the local animators of the project and learn a lot through them about the local situation and problems. Regular meetings and training sessions are organised in order to improve the services rendered to the farmers by the veterinary department. It is not the intention of the project to transform the veterinary assistants into rural development animators. Animation should remain the role of the local animators and the active members of the PAs. The veterinary assistants and, hopefully in future also employees from other technical departments, should execute their tasks according to the farmers' needs and demands.

However, a positive attitude from the Ministry of Livestock and its employees towards PAs and pare-vets has been, and will remain, indispensable in order to implement the necessary measures, such as recognition of PAs and pare-vets, price agreements for veterinary drugs, and training of government personnel.

The successful involvement of all parties in the Ishtirak project is only possible because the project is independent of the Ministry of Livestock, and the personnel of the Ministry are paid by the project for the services they render to the herders. This means that the project is not asking for a favour but paying for a clearly defined job, which should be properly carried out. Ideally in the long run the PAs should be able to ask for assistance from different government departments. At first, this would be through the animator, but eventually they should no longer need the support of the animator and the project, but be able to obtain the services required for themselves. So the pastoral associations will in the end become local NGOs, which is very important because it seems likely that the already limited services from the government departments will decrease further due to lack of government funds.