Managing Mobility in African Rangelands: The Legitimization of Transhumance

Article excerpt

Maryam Niamir-Fuller, ed. Managing Mobility in African Rangelands: The Legitimization of Transhumance. London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1999. xiv + 314. Bibliography. Index. $29.95. Paper.

Published seven years ago, this volume remains relevant for anyone concerned with pastoral development today, but in particular for policymakers and practitioners. It has two aims. The first is to provide an update on recent developments in pastoral development and the study of pastoral systems, offering a synthesis of recent theories, analyses, and data, which are presented as the "new paradigm" (often referred to as the "new thinking" or "new ecology" in the literature). The second objective is to strengthen arguments supporting livestock mobility in dryland environments and to give fieldworkers and policymakers the tools to "create the social, legal and institutional conditions that would legitimize transhumance" (9).

This volume is the third in a series concerning recent developments in pastoral studies, particularly in the field of rangeland ecology. Like Range Ecology at Disequilibrium: New Models of Natural Variability and Pastoral Adaptation in African Savannas (1993) and Living with Uncertainty: New Directions in Pastoral Development in Africa ( 1995), it is published by Intermediate Technology Publications in London. The premise of all three volumes is that pastoral systems are rational adaptations to dryland ecology. Managing Mobility posits that mobility is the key adaptation in pastoral systems. Whereas the other two volumes focus on rangeland ecology and risk management, this one looks at the "traditional" and "modern" institutional contexts of pastoral mobility.

The book opens with an introduction that clearly outlines the argument and structure of the volume. Then follows a review of the literature in chapter 2 by Maryam Niamir-Fuller and Matthew Turner and eight chapters with case studies that examine different aspects of pastoral mobility in Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Sudan, Uganda, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. …