Pastoral livelihoods and climate change in Niger

This research project in Niger looked at how six different pastoral groups in eastern Niger are adapting to climate change.

June 2008 to March 2009
Ced Hesse

Senior fellow, Climate Change; team leader, climate resilience, productivity and equity in the drylands

WoDaaBe pastoralist with his cattle.

WoDaaBe pastoralist with his cattle in Diffa, Niger (Credit: copyright Stephen Anderson)

Pastoralists live in a context of environmental uncertainty and have developed a diverse range of strategies, institutions and networks to exploit this unpredictability and risk to their advantage.

Livestock mobility and the carefully controlled breeding of animals to feed selectively on the best quality pastures highly dispersed in time and space are two of the more critical strategies.

Despite their proven value, these strategies are still poorly understood and integrated in policy design. In order to provide sound policy advice, it's critical to gain a better understanding of these strategies in light of increasing climatic variability, growing competition for land, rising population and decentralisation.

What IIED did

The research sought a better understanding of how different pastoral groups in eastern Niger are adapting in practice to climate change. Fieldwork was completed documenting the differentiated impact of climate change on six different pastoral communities, the strategies they are using to respond and which of these are successful and why (website in French).

Central to the research was also gaining an understanding of the role of politics and the extent to which Niger’s policy environment helped build the resilience of local pastoralist communities to adapt to climate change and to what degree differences of gender, ethnicity and residence impacted on these groups’ capacities to adapt. 

Research findings were subsequently documented in a video by Marie Monimart and Steve Anderson that tells the story of how some of these pastoralists are successfully managing the cycles of drought and benefiting from new economic opportunities, while others are having to leave and move to towns to find new jobs and opportunities.

The video is available on our YouTube channel, can be viewed in French with English subtitles (original)Arabic with English subtitlesFulani with English subtitles, and Hausa with English subtitles.

Ngaynaaka: herding chaos

Three documentaries by Saverio Krätli in English and French presents the lives of two WoDaaBe families in northern Niger highlighting the rationale underpinning their mobility patterns: the harvesting of unstable concentrations of nutrients on the range by carefully built teams of cattle versed in the ‘art’ of feeding selectively, and the proactive and systematic creation of economic value rather than mere survival.

The documentaries are  available on our YouTube channel.


View a further selection of short videos exploring the impact of climate change on pastoralists.


Secrétariat Permanent du Code Rural, Niger