Shazali and Ahmed (1999). Pastoral Land Tenure and Agricultural Expansion
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Competition over natural resources, particularly land, has become an issue of both major concern and conflict among the pastoral populations of the African Sahel and Horn. Since the 1970s, the region plunged into recurring cycles of drought and famine threatening the lives of both people and livestock. The issue of "food security" has consequently become an over-riding concern for both national governments and donors to the region. But invariably strategies for food security seem to emphasise the expansion of agricultural production to enable people to attain "self-sufficiency". Over the last three decades, and particularly since the mid-1980s, numerous interventions have been launched. A few nation-wide and large-scale regional initiatives by governments, bilateral and multilateral donors were established, but the majority of the interventions seem to be small-scale projects backed by numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Although the stated and ultimate objective was food security and self-reliance, governments and donors were consistently drawn (often unwillingly and contrary to their stated objectives) into distribution of famine relief. Vulnerability seems to defy all efforts towards rehabilitation and development of affected communities....
The factors behind the persistence of vulnerability are varied and complex.
Some blame the "dependency syndrome" resulting from continued distribution
of free food. A few apparently adopt a Malthusian/Spencerian view that
recurrent famine is a natural adjustment mechanism to a situation of excessive
growth rates of both human and animal populations which local environments
cannot sustain. Distribution of free food is thus pointed out as a catalyst to the
perpetuation of vulnerability. Others conceive vulnerability as a consequence
of a long term environmental degradation process which the victims have
exacerbated by adopting unsustainable patterns of resource use. Both views
seem to inform the current rehabilitation and development interventions. But
both also seem to gloss over the extent to which vulnerability is underlain, first
and foremost, by state policies, particularly those affecting traditional land
tenure systems on which vulnerable communities formerly depended. The
purpose of this paper is to shed light on the extent to which land use policy has
contributed to the vulnerability of otherwise better-off sections of rural people
in the Horn, viz. the pastoralists.