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close this book Pastoral associations in Chad
close this folder 1 Introduction
View the document 1.1 Background to the report
View the document 1.2 Background to the Ishtirak project

1.2 Background to the Ishtirak project

1.2.1 Development approaches with agro-pastoralists in African countries

Over time the development approaches with pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in African countries changed as follows: in the post-colonial era of the 1960s and 1970s the development thinking was biased towards high-technical and large-scale development projects. In the livestock sector this meant water development and vaccination campaigns. At the end of the 1970s there was a crisis in the development scene, with the feeling that all arid and semi-arid-land development projects had failed. In the 1980s there was a new interest in the semi-arid and arid zones of Africa. A pragmatic shift occurred, opening up formerly taboo development perspectives such as the notion of 'food security', sustainable development, and people's participation (Hjort af Ornas, 1991). As a result, there was also recognition of the fact that development of the animal production sector cannot be considered in isolation but should be seen as part of the existing farming/economic system, which then demands an integrated approach.

The approach of the Ishtirak project was a result of Oxfam's recognition that up to the 1980s the development approach in drylands with agro-pastoralists had ignored:

- the herdsman's own considerable technical knowledge;

- the herdsman's own, clearly articulated and consistent production objectives;

- the fact that without an appropriate institutional framework there are no channels for the government on the one hand and herders as groups on the other to communicate with each other on development. (Swift and Bonfiglioli, 1984.)

1.2.2 Description of the Ishtirak project

1.2.2.1 Project time schedule and collaborators

The project Ishtirak (Arabic for 'association') which is funded by Oxfam (a British NGO) and carried out in collaboration with SECADEV (a local NGO) and the Ministry of Livestock, has been operational since mid-1987 in the Sahelian zone of Central Chad, in the Oum-Hadjer district. The project period was designed to be four years. The target group are the agro pastoralists in the area.

For the first two years Oxfam was to direct the project and would provide the project coordinator. SECADEV would provide an assistant who would take over the co-ordination after these first two years. The Ministry of Livestock would be responsible for the attachment of the technical personnel.

SECADEV (Secours Catholic au Developpement)

Chad is one of the few countries left in Africa with a very limited number of local NGOs. SECADEV is a local NGO which has its roots in the Catholic mission. During the last drought period of 1982 83, SECADEV was set up in order to organise the distribution of food aid. To organise the distribution the rural population had first to organise themselves into groups, the so-called 'groupements'. After the drought SECADEV transformed itself from a relief organisation to a development organisation and continued to work with the same groups. Their main emphasis was, and remains, on increasing agricultural production and on storage and commercialisation of agricultural products. Their main activities are communal fields, building of grain store-rooms, selling of agricultural equipment, and distribution of improved seeds. All their activities are based on the groups themselves, so group animation is the cornerstone of their development approach. SECADEV has now become a very large organisation with nine regional projects and a centralised structure from N'Djamena down to field level. SECADEV was interested in participating in the Ishtirak project because they wanted to increase their activities by the addition of aspects of animal production.

The Ministry of Livestock

This Ministry has been, since the end of 1988, in the process of reorganisation and restructuring under the influence of the World Bank livestock programme for Chad, PNE (Projet National d'Elevage). Previously, the activities of the Ministry of Livestock were paralysed by the lack or bed state of their infrastructure and basic equipment. Their interventions were limited to vaccination campaigns against rinderpest, anthrax and pleuropneumonia of cattle, during a few months a year.

The objective of PNE is to develop the animal production sector through reorganisation of the Ministry of Livestock and training of its personnel, improvement of the infrastructure of the Ministry, water development, better distribution of veterinary drugs, and the promotion of pastoral associations. Progress so far has been slow but steady. PNE is very much interested in the Ishtirak project as the concept is more or less what they intended to implement in their pilot zone with regards to Pastoral Associations.

1.2.2.2 Objectives and activities

The objectives of the Ishtirak project are:

- increasing the livestock productivity in the area;

- improving the living standards of the target population.

The overall aim of the Ishtirak project is to achieve these objectives through encouraging the creation of pastoral associations based on the agro-pastoralists' existing socio-economic structures. These pastoral associations (PAs) provide the framework within which the members determine their own development problems and solutions. Up to date 36 associations (of 15-30 members) have been formed, as well as seven women's groups (40-50 members). Eventually groups of about ten PAs are to create a series of larger unions, in order to carry out certain of the* activities more effectively, and to be represented at administrative and government level.

The project team provides training programmes a credit scheme to support the activities of the associations. These activities aim to reduce the vulnerability of the target groups to the climatic and economic factors which affect their lives. Work has so far mainly been concerned with animal health, commercialisation of animals and milk, and the establishment of cereal banks. Over time, in response to the concerns expressed by the groups, more issues are being taken on, such as agriculture, human health, education, environmental degradation, and natural resource management.

1.2.2.3 The project team

At the project centre (Oum-Hadjer) there is a small team which was set up in 1987 with originally only an Oxfam co-ordinator and an animal production technician from the Ministry of Livestock; but from 1988 onwards the project team extended considerably, with a SECADEV assistant and a new Oxfam project co-ordinator, several animators, an animatrice, and in 1990 an agriculturalist and administrator. In the field the project has recruited animators locally, one for a cluster of approximately ten pastoral associations (PAs). These animators visit the PAs regularly and are paid by the project. In the future it is hoped that they will be paid by a union of PAs, if these unions still have a defined task for these animators. It is also expected that in the long run the PAs should be able to ask for assistance from different government departments according to their needs.

1.2.2.4 General description of the target group and their production system

The target group of the project are the agro-pastoralists, men and women, of the area. Agropastoralism is defined as a production system in which less then half of the food needs are covered by direct or indirect livestock products. When more than half of the food needs are covered by livestock products the system is defined as pastoralism (Dietz, 1987).

The agro-pastoralists in the area keep mainly cattle (10-55) and goats (5-50). Approximately 30 per cent of them only possess goats and a few sheep. The area cultivated by the agro-pastoralists varies from two to four hectares divided over two or three fields, where they mainly grow millet and in some areas sorghum or 'sorghum de decrue' (with catchment rain). In some regions, where water is available from shallow wells, gardening is becoming very important, especially in drier years. Most of the agro-pastoralists in the region live in semi-mobile cattle camps. This means that in normal years they move their camps according to the needs of the season, within a limited area During drought years they might move to the south of the country in search of water and pastures.

It is important to note that during the last 20 years some forms of agro-pastoral systems are becoming increasingly important for Sahelian herders and farmers alike, in order to diversify their activities. The examples are numerous. In Chad, in the Oum-Hadjer region the Kouka and Massalat were originally agriculturalists colonised and Islamicised in the eighteenth century by the nomadic Arabs but in spite of disasters, they turned to agro-pastoralism over the last 40 years. They invested the* surplus grain in livestock, and after a while their herds became so important that they changed their way of life and became more mobile. They started to live in tents, and used the village for grain storage and as a reference point in the agricultural season (Bonfiglioli, 1990). In contrast, in the same region, the agro-pastoralists of the Misserye Rouge tribe are originally so-called 'Arabs' i.e. real nomads, and most of the members of their tribe are still long-distance pastoralists. After droughts some of them settled in their home area (Koundjar) in order to cultivate crops and rebuild their herds and for many of them this passage situation became permanent.

Thus Bonfiglioli (1990) distinguishes two groups of agro-pastoralists; agro-pastoral-herders and agro-pastoral-agriculturalists. The first were originally pastoralists and the second originally agriculturalists. Of the total of 36 PAs of the Ishtirak project at the end of 1990, 14 were composed of agro-pastoral-herders and 22 of agro-pastoral-agriculturalists.

There are differences (more differences will be discussed in 1.2.2.5 on the role of women) between the two groups of agro-pastoralists; one difference is that in the Kounjar region no villages of Misserye Rouge are found except for the village of the chef de Canton, whilst in the AdDjop region there is a close relationship between Koukas in the village and in the cattle camps, as they are quite often from the same family, and people tend to spend a period of their life in the camps and another period in the village. The agro-pastoralists near the river Batha live in villages where they have night kraals. For them there is no need to be mobile as there is a secure supply of water, and they are situated in the best grazing area of the Batha with good quality dry-season grazing. Another difference is that the influence of the traditional leaders is much stronger within the agro-pastoral-herder groups than among the agro-pastoral-agriculturalists.

The basic unit of the agro-pastoral production system is the family, with an-average of six members. Only some very rich men have two or more wives (households) at the same time; the usual custom is to divorce the first wife when her children are becoming adults and to marry a younger one. Usually a family lives in a tent (for exceptions see above) and 6-13 tents form a camp. However, depending on the time of the year and the prevailing occupation, these camps consist of smaller or bigger units. For example, during harvesting time each family will have its tent near their own fields, and during the hot dry season they will come together with other families in larger camps to collaborate for long-distance night grazing and to be near water sources. In between there are many variations. At the end of the dry season, when the rainy season in the South starts, the men in the southern Oum-Hadjer zone take the main herds a little distance southwards, to profit from the fresh green pastures, whilst the families stay behind in order to cultivate when the rains start. At the same time, the families from the Koundjar zone with larger herds move with their tents towards the Batha river where there is still standing hay and water points, as water is a crucial problem in the Koundjar zone during the second half of the dry season. The families with smaller herds in the Koundjar zone try to manage with the little water which is left, as they want to use all their family labour for cultivation as soon as the first rains start.

Generally speaking, several herds are grazed together and the herding of livestock is done by children, except during the late dry season when long-distance night grazing is practiced, when a few men will accompany the children. The men are responsible for watering the animals. Milking and the production of butter oil is the women's task, but in some circumstances men can milk the animals and women can water cattle. The agricultural work is done by the adults, both men and women, in the family.

Other aspects of the agro pastoralist production system

Also very important for the agro-pastoralist production system, and usually done by women, is the gathering of fire wood, wild rice, wild grains, locust, all types of wild berries, and palm leaves (to make mats). However, the importance of gathering food is declining every year because of the impoverishment of the natural environment. Collection of dead fire wood is not yet a problem as it can still be found near the camps or village. Depending on the area, selling of fire wood, mats, and gathered food items can be an important source of revenue for the women's household economy.

Another important aspect of the agro-pastoral production system is the migratory labour of young men. This can be seasonally, as construction labourers or water carriers in the Chadian towns, or for a longer period as labourers in neighbouring countries (Sudan, Niger, Nigeria). The seasonal labourers come back with some presents and, if they are lucky, some savings; and at least were one less burden for the family during the dry season. The long-term (over three years) migratory labourers often come back with a radio, and enough savings to buy some cattle or to marry.

Interaction of agricultures and animal production

The agro-pastoralist production system is based on agriculture for the day-to-day household economy. During the year cereal stocks are not only consumed but also sold in order to buy necessities for the family. Animal production becomes important during the difficult period at the beginning of the rainy season, when there are little or no cereal stocks left and milk then becomes

an important food source. A household normally consumes 4.5kg of cereals per day, but if there is milk in the diet, only 2.5kg per day (Ishtirak, 1980c) and the butter oil can be sold to buy family necessities such as sugar and tea. In years with a bad harvest more animals (first small stock but later also cattle) will be sold to provide for the family. After the bad rainy season of 1990, 67 per cent of the agro pastoralists questioned (of a total of 84) answered that they would sell cattle to buy grain (Ishtirak, 1990c).

1.2.2.5 The role of women in the agro-pastoralist production system

We have already seen in the description of the agro-pastoralist production system that the women are responsible for milking and the production of butter oil. The women can generally speaking decide for themselves how to use the produce in their household economy. Milk and butter oil are used for home consumption, and the surplus butter oil is sold directly or stored for home consumption or sale at a later date, depending on the household's needs and the women's own priorities. However, quite often the men ask the women to pay for vaccinations and other veterinary treatments for the herd, which seems logical. The fact that the women keep a check on the milk production of the cows and observe the cows and calves very closely during milking time means that they detect most of the illnesses in the herd, which are then confirmed by the men.

The difference between the two types of agro-pastoralists (agro-pastoral agriculturalists and agro-pastoral herders) is important when it comes to social, traditional and organisational issues; differences in the role of women is especially noteworthy. Agro-pastoral-agriculturalist women have their own fields and their own storage facilities. They have inherited the fields from their mother or they are given them by their husbands. Agro-pastoral-herder women do not have their own fields. For example, in the case of the two groups mentioned above, the Kouka (agropastoralagriculturalists) women were traditionally economically independent, having their own fields and individual grain stores. These women were used to providing the daily food requirements of their family through the collection of wild fruits, and the production and exchange of household items such as mats, and rope. When their production system slowly involved more livestock keeping, the women continued their income-generating activities, and milk and milk products were added to the women's household economy. In contrast, when the Misserye Rouge (agro-pastoral-herders) included more agriculture in their production system and became more sedentary, the women did not acquire their own fields and grain storage; although they learned how to make household items, the quality was not good enough for sale or exchange. Their main revenue remained milk and milk products, even though the herds were smaller than before. However, they were still expected to find ways of providing the daily food items, as the men were now very reluctant to sell animals regularly to provide for family needs outside the rainy (milking) season, as they had done before when they were still purely pastoralists.