According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) global carbon diozide emissions in 2012 reached a record. At the intersection of climate change, food security and poverty reduction is the African smallholder farmer and their sisters and brothers whom are herder/farmers (pastoralists) in the Sahel. While the West works toward reducing fossil fuel consumption and vehicle emissions the opportunity to trap carbon in the dry/grasslands of the earth through better land management exists.
A proponent and the father of holistic grassland management is Dr. Allan Savory, of the Savory Institute (video). If done properly, grassland restoration positively impacts wetlands and waterways, restores natural habitat for wild and domesticated animals and provides pastures for animals and land for farms. Healthy grass and farmlands stop the encroachment of deserts and trap carbon while supporting local communities’ ability to raise livestock and grow food.
But restoring grasslands takes a lot of dedication, time and a concerted effort in the best of places. It appears particularly difficult in the Sahel regions of western Africa as Mohammed Bello Tukur, Secretary General of Confederation of Traditional Herder Organizations in Africa (CORET) writes passionately and convincingly recently in his blog “Conflicts between Transhumant Pastoralist and Farmers in Nigeria – the Way Out” (part I and II).
The solutions are known as Dr Savory and Mr Bello document for those that want to look for them. The problems are complex and interwoven across social, cultural, economic and political spheres. Efforts of change and impact will take time but more importantly the political will and guidance at all levels to coordinate efforts and investments and to mitigate conflict.