Supporting over one million people,

and improving 2,600km of livestock routes

West Africa has high population growth. It is estimated that the region’s population (45% of whom are under 15 years old) will reach a half-billion by 2040. But countries in the region are struggling to reduce poverty and inequality, and to sustainably manage resources. There are major disparities in the region: Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal alone account for roughly 80% of the region’s imports and 94% of exports. Conflicts, political crises and terrorist threats in several West African countries are all destabilising factors. Those countries also face extreme climate phenomena, which are becoming more and more frequent and severe, and which are further weakening the primary sector.

Over the past thirty years, family farms in the Sahel have based their economies on balancing their resources and labour between animal and crop production. Livestock mobility is central to all of those systems, even the most sedentary ones. By securing routes and facilitating mobility, this project will benefit a wide range of family farms, regardless of how their farming systems are balanced.

Since early January 2015, Acting for Life has been coordinating the project to help 1,196,000 pastoralists and agropastoralists become more resilient by securing and promoting the cross-border mobility of livestock and providing services in Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. This transnational programme aims to help pastoralists and agropastoralists become more resilient to climate phenomena through on-the-ground work and through regional and international policies. The project focuses on two transnational areas linking Mauritania, Mali and Senegal on the one hand, and Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso on the other. Those areas see the large-scale seasonal movement of transhumant pastoralists and agropastoralists who have access to pastures and markets, and to backup areas in the event of drought.


  • position transhumance and the movement of livestock for sale as factors for economic development;
  • set up favourable conditions for decentralisation;
  • promote strategic and prospective thinking supported by the distribution of advocacy tools supporting the social, environmental and economic importance of cross-border livestock mobility in West Africa as an essential strategy for adapting to climate phenomena and mitigating crises.

Key figures and results

  • Routes for the transhumance and sale of livestock have been mapped, secured, improved (watering places, rest areas and pastures) and managed jointly, inclusively and fairly by the users and institutional actors in question (decentralised authorities, state services). The most strategic routes act as a circulatory system allowing livestock farmers to circulate with their herds. They are also commercial routes for transporting livestock by foot.
  • Development of services for livestock farmers through the provision of inputs for livestock (livestock food and local animal health, including the infrastructure linked to them), and development of research and actions on new services adapted to mobile livestock farmers (supporting the strategic use of reserves in periods of crisis, information system for transhumance and feasibility of insuring livestock against risks, in the Sahelian context).
  • Creation and distribution of advocacy tools showing the economic, social and environmental benefits of livestock mobility.
  • Increase in the income of livestock-farming families.
  • The number of conflicts, particularly between crop and livestock farmers, has decreased in the areas covered by the project, and access to livestock markets has been facilitated (reduced travel time).

Project's local partners :

    • CILSS
      The Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel, or CILSS) was founded on 12 September 1973, following a period of severe drought in the Sahel in the 1970s. There are 13 member states: eight coastal countries (Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Togo), four landlocked countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad) and one island country (Cape Verde).
    • APESS-Nigeria
      The Association for the Promotion of Livestock Farming in the Sahel and the Savanna (Association pour la Promotion de l’Élevage au Sahel et en Savane, or APESS) promotes rural development, and traditional livestock farming in particular. APESS offers its services to crop and livestock farmers, and to leaders and participants in various rural-development projects.
    • Ghana Venskabsgrupperne (GV)

      GV is a development organisation that supports equality and development in the northern region of Ghana. It helps local communities, women and young people band together and defend their rights. Its work focuses on improving food security and living conditions, promoting the right to high-quality education and helping young people become more autonomous.

    • Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD)

      The Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development is an NGO that seeks to develop methods for strengthening traditional authorities and civil-society organisations in order to facilitate sustainable development that gives a voice to poor and vulnerable rural families.

    • Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA)

      Ghana Developing Communities Association is an NGO that provides people in northern Ghana who live in poor communities or who are socially excluded with the means to work for social, political and economic development, and to adopt healthy environmental practices for a sustainable way of life.

    • ICD

      Initiatives-Consulting-Development (Initiatives-Conseils-Développement, or ICD) is a Malian NGO that has been promoting rural development in Mali since 2001. It works with small farmers (both men and women) and their organisations to: promote access to services for crop and livestock farming and access to the market; improve food security and nutrition; manage natural resources and support pastoralism. It also facilitates cooperation between actors in agricultural sectors.

    • GAJEL

      The Cultural Action Group for Young Livestock Farmers (Groupement d'Action Culturelle des Jeunes Éleveurs, or GAJEL-Sudubaba) is an organisation that was founded in Niger in 1998. It works to promote economic and cultural development for crop and livestock farmers.

    • AREN

      The Association for the Revitalisation of Livestock Farming in Niger (Association pour la Redynamisation de le L’Elevage au Niger, or AREN) seeks to improve the lives of pastoral livestock farmers by helping them overcome challenges relating to land, conflict management and development. Its goal is to help those farmers represent themselves and defend their rights in national and international debates, and to help them get involved in policies and activities relating to development.

    • Communità Impegno Servizio Volontariato (CISV)

      CISV is a community-based non-profit organisation founded in Turin in 1961. It is independent and non-religious. It carries out international-cooperation projects to help local communities become drivers of their own development, by helping smallholder organisations and civil society promote human rights and eliminate the causes of poverty and inequitable wealth distribution.

    • LVIA

      The International Association of Non-Denominational Volunteers (Association Internationale Volontaires Laïques, or LVIA) is an organisation dedicated to international solidarity and cooperation. It promotes fair and sustainable development, dialogue between Italian and African communities, and local and global change to combat extreme poverty.

    • GIC

      Founded in 2004, the Collines Intercommunal Group (Groupement Intercommunal des Collines, or GIC) comprises the six towns of the Collines department in Benin. It was created because elected officials and residents wanted to build a common vision for the development of their region. GIC helps pool resources for projects that promote shared interests, and helps the towns plan for development in a way that includes all members of the community.

    • ANOPER
      The National Association for Professional Organisations of Ruminant Farmers (Association Nationale des Organisations Professionnelles des Éleveurs de Ruminants, or ANOPER) is a smallholder organisation comprising 35,000 livestock farmers in 48 towns in Benin, representing 75% of the country. It aims to improve living and working conditions for livestock farmers through the modernisation and sustainable development of ruminant farming.
    • ARED
      Associates in Research and Education for Development (ARED) is an international non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote quality education in African languages for local communities through training, publishing, teaching innovations and research. An Acting for Life partner for 15 years, ARED-Senegal trains adults and organises public debates between multiple actors, using innovative teaching methods developed since 1998.