Wealth, household heterogeneity and livelihood diversification of Fulani pastoralists in the Kachia Grazing Reserve, northern Nigeria, during a period of social transition

Ducrotoy, Marie J. and Revie, Crawford W. and Shaw, Alexandra P. M. and Musa, Usman B. and Bertu, Wilson J. and Gusi, Amahyel M. and Ocholi, Reuben A. and Majekodunmi, Ayodele O. and Welburn, Susan C. (2017) Wealth, household heterogeneity and livelihood diversification of Fulani pastoralists in the Kachia Grazing Reserve, northern Nigeria, during a period of social transition. PLOS One, 12 (3). ISSN 1932-6203

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    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: A mixed methods study was undertaken in the Kachia Grazing Reserve of northern Nigeria. Surveys in March, June and October 2011 included focus group discussions, key informant and in-depth household interviews, concerning livelihood practices, animal health, ownership, and productivity. In May 2011, 249 Fulani families fleeing post-election violence entered the reserve with their livestock, increasing the number of households by one third. RESULTS: Despite being settled within a grazing reserve, over half of households sent all their cattle away on seasonal transhumance and another third sent some away. Cattle accounted for 96% of total tropical livestock units (TLU), of which 26% were cattle kept permanently outside the reserve. While all households cited livestock as their main source of income, 90% grew crops and 55% derived income from off-farm activities. A multiple correspondence analysis showed that for each extra member of a household its TLU value increased by 2.0 [95% CI, 1.4-2.7], while for each additional marriage its TLU increased by 15.7 [95% CI, 7.1-24.3]. A strong association was also observed between small herds, small households with only one wife, alongside marked geographical wealth differences within the reserve. New immigrant families had larger household sizes (33) and livestock holdings (122 TLU) than old settlers (22 people and 67 TLU). Prior to the mass immigration, the distribution of TLU per person was unimodal: 41% of households were classified as 'poor' and 27% as 'medium', whereas post-immigration it was bi-modal, with 26% classified as 'very poor' and 28% as 'medium'. CONCLUSIONS: While cattle remain the principal source of Fulani income and wealth, the inhabitants of Kachia Grazing Reserve have diversified their livelihood strategies to respond to changing circumstances and stress, especially the limited availability of grazing within the reserve and political insecurity outside, resulting in continued transhumance, the maintenance of smaller livestock holdings and pushing households into poverty.