Pastoralism and Conflict in the Sudano-Sahel: A Review of the Literature

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August 20, 2020

This literature review was developed as part of the project “Partnership for Stability and Security in the Sudano-Sahel” supported by U.S. State Department, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations between October 2019 and March 2021. The goal of this project is to inform stabilization and development efforts in communities across the Sudano-Sahel affected by cross-border farmer-herder conflict by identifying proven, data-informed methods of conflict transformation.

This review covers the following key trends and debates from existing literature:

  • Resource Competition and Adaptation – This Section reviews arguments that analyze pastoralism-related conflicts through the lens of competition over resources. The materials cover the major economic and environmental shifts that have reshaped pastoral livestock production in the Sudano-Sahel and how these shifts are changing relationships between pastoralists and farmers.
  • Governance, Law, and Dispute Resolution – This Section breaks down key debates on the policies governing land use and pastoral mobility and how these policies may reinforce or mitigate conflict and the efficacy of local authorities and systems in managing resource disputes.
  • “New Fringe Pastoralism” – This Section explores the intersection between pastoralist populations and illicit activities or insurgent violence. This Section speaks to an ongoing debate in existing scholarship, policy discourse, and public perception about whether or not some pastoral populations should be seen as vectors of violence or criminality.

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