Niger: Pastoral livelihoods and climate change adaptation

Pastoralists live in an uncertain environment and have developed diverse strategies, institutions and networks to turn this unpredictability and risk to their advantage. Breeding livestock to feed selectively on the most nutritious plants, and moving livestock to those areas where the most nutritious pastures can be found are two crucial strategies. Yet despite their proven value, these strategies are still poorly understood and badly integrated in policy design. IIED undertook two pieces collaborative of research in Niger to address this.

A shot from the Herding Chaos film made by Saverio Krätli

A shot from the Herding Chaos film (Photo: Saverio Krätli)

Field research by IIED with support from the Secrétariat Permanent du Code Rural, Niger documented how six different pastoral communities in eastern Niger adapted to climate change. The work showed the strategies pastoralists used to respond to climate change, which of these were successful, and why.

The research analysed whether and how Niger’s policy environment helped build the resilience of local communities to climate change, and how much gender, ethnicity and where people live affected communities’ capacities to adapt.

Additional resources

IIED commissioned Saverio Krätli to produce a film documenting how Wodaabe herders in Niger exploit environmental unpredictability for their economic advantage.

The film presented the lives of two families and explored the rationale underpinning their mobility patterns, how carefully built teams of cattle selectively harvested sporadic nutrient resources on the range, and how this proactively and systematically created economic value, rather than offering mere survival.

See the trailer: 'Herding Chaos' by Saverio Krätli.

Further documentaries in this series, and other related videos, are available in English and French.

  • Diffa: the morning light/Diffa: les premiers matins du monde
  • Herding chaos/L'élevage et le chaos (series of documentaries)
  • Planning with uncertainty: using scenario planning with African pastoralists/Planifier avec l’incertitude : scenario planning avec les éleveurs nomades en Afrique (series of videos)
  • Peace, trade, livelihoods and adaptation to climate change in Africa's drylands
  • Education for nomads: voices of the people