The pastoral livestock systems have persistently faced enormous difficulties. The feeding and watering conditions for animals have become difficult due to significant fodder deficits recorded in some Sahelian countries. The expansion of insecurity of goods and people and its corollary of displacement of animals and herders is a challenge. Besides, an increasing restriction of sub-national and cross-border mobility is another major constraint with pastoral livestock systems. These challenges gave birth to the livestock and pastoralism intervention sector.
To effectively address the challenges posed in the region’s pastoral livestock systems, the Regional Animal Health Centre (RAHC) was established. RAHC is a specialized ECOWAS Agency based in Bamako, Mali. Its mandate is to: (i) coordinate and harmonize policies and interventions for the control of transboundary animal diseases and zoonoses, (ii) support the formulation of national strategies for the control of transboundary animal diseases and zoonoses, (iii) improve the regional animal health information and reporting system, (iv) strengthen regional epidemiological surveillance systems, (vi) improve communication, exchange and dissemination of information, and sensitization of professional and producer networks, and (vii) create and/or strengthen regional, continental and international partnerships for the benefit of animal issues in the ECOWAS region.
Livestock and pastoralism are threatened by Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), a terrible disease that has become an epidemic in West Africa. It kills up to 90% of the animals it infects and causes significant economic losses. This is concerning because sheep and goats constitute a safety net and a means of incomes for many households in the region, especially during difficult periods. For instance, livestock’s contribution to regional agricultural GDP is 44% with an average of more than 60 million heads of cattle, 400 million poultry and 160 million small ruminants. For sub-Saharan Africa, this accounts for about 33% of the sheep and 40% of the goats. These pieces evidence suggest that small ruminants’ production is an important component of the complex agricultural system on which the economy of ECOWAS is very dependent.
ECOWAS strives to control and eradicate transboundary animal diseases because doing so would directly promote food and nutrition security and agricultural GDP growth in the region. ECOWAS seeks to achieve improved coordination and synergies in the Livestock and Pastoralism sector.
Collaborating Partners & Coordinating Mechanism.
Several partners contribute toward the livestock development and management of cross-border transhumance and pastoralism. For example, trainings were carried out with the financial support of development partners in the region (AFD, EU, Coop Suisse, WB) and in collaboration with other intergovernmental organizations (CILSS, UEMOA). Livestock, Transhumance and Pastoralism is among the twelve (12) initiatives or projects executed by the RAAF and those entrusted to CILSS and CORAF with over US$300 million (external funding).
Spotlight of main interventions or programs achieved:
ECOWAS has made efforts regarding animal health in the region and has set a vision of controlling and eradicating Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) by 2030. Below are some initiatives undertaken:
- ECOWAS launched its first Mass Vaccination Campaign in December 2019 to control and eradicate Peste des Petits Ruminants. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone benefited from this initiative. Moreover, the second campaign was launched in 2022 providing nearly 5 million doses of vaccine, extending to five additional countries, namely Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, and Senegal.
- Project for Integrated and Secure Livestock Farming and Pastoralism in West Africa (PEPISAO), which reinforced implementation of conflicts prevention and management approaches in targeted zones, capitalization, exchange, and dissemination of initiatives as regards prevention, management, and transformation of conflicts. PEPISAO and other regional projects facilitate organization and holding of high-level dialogue for peaceful transhumance.
- The Commission received support from UNOWAS for the editing and publication of a compendium of good practices in conflict prevention and management between farmers and herders.
- The mobilization of financial resources from AFD to support the updating of the investment program for livestock development in six coastal countries (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, and Togo) and the development of proposals on stock breeding in three other countries (Guinea Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone).
- The Commission negotiated and obtained from the French Development Agency a grant of eleven million Euros to finance a pilot project to support the implementation of the regional offensive for the promotion of local milk value chains in West Africa and the Sahel.
- The ECOWAS Commission has been awarded a grant from the Swiss Cooperation to implement the program to support the marketing of livestock and meat in West Africa.
- The commission has been awarded a grant to finance phase 3 of the support program for producers' organizations, a component devoted to integrating young people into local milk value chains. Twenty-three grassroots projects are currently being implemented.
- The reparation of an action plan and livestock feed investments for the West Africa and Sahel region is underway with the financial assistance of FAO.
- Thirty-five employees of communities and water services of four countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Togo) on the social engineering approach around agro-pastoral infrastructure, with tools to verify the level of consideration of environmental, social standards before, during and after their implementation. The was with financial support from (AFD, EU, Coop Suisse, WB) in collaboration with (CILSS, UEMOA).
- Th organization of four high-level consultations for local community authorities in the following cross-border areas: Maradi-Katsina, Kebbi-Alibori-Dosso; Sikasso-Korogho-Bobo Dioulasso, and Mauritania-Mali-Senega with financial support from (AFD, EU, Coop Suisse, WB) in collaboration with (CILSS, UEMOA).
List of the main strategic, regulatory, and technical documents or reports validated and published by ECOWAS:
- Synthesis notes on the prospects of livestock in West Africa  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/285
- Final Communique of the High-Level Consultation on the Revitalization of the Consultation Framework: Maradi (Niger) and Katsina (Nigeria) for the Security Transhumance and Cross-Border Mobility of the Livestock  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/249
- A High-level consultation on the progress of the Maradi (Niger) and Katsina (Nigeria) consultation framework for the security of transhumance and cross-border mobility of livestock between Niger and Nigeria. The objective was to boost cross-border cooperation on pastoralism in Maradi and Katsina cross-border area  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/286
- Controlling and Eradicating Peste des Petits Ruminants by 2030: ECOWAS Set to Launch the 2022 Mass Vaccination Campaign  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/news/read-ecowap-news/134
- Improving Coordination and Synergies in the Livestock and Pastoralism sector  https://www.araa.org/en/news/improving-coordination-and-synergies-livestock-and-pastoralism-sector
- High level consultation Report - The Observatory of mobile livestock systems in the Sahel and West Africa  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/143
- Project brochure - Integrated and Secured Livestock and Pastoralism Project in West Africa (PEPISAO)  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/138
- Strategy document - Regional Offensive for the Promotion of Local Milk Value Chains in West Africa  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/31
- Priority Investment Programme Document - Regional Offensive for local milk value chains promotion in West Africa  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/117
- Expert Meeting Report of the Validation workshop of the Regional strategy and milk priority investment programmed on local milk documents  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/118
- Factsheet - Regional Offensive for Local Milk  https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/93
- Regulation C/REG.3/01/03 relating to the implementation of the regulations on transhumance between the ECOWAS Member states, adopted by the 49th session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers on January 26-28, 2003, https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/75
- Decision A/DEC.5/10/98 relating to the regulations on transhumance between ECOWAS Member States, adopted at the 21st Conference of Heads of State of ECOWAS, in Abuja on October 31, 1998, https://ecowap.ecowas.int/see-document/21