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Fulani pastoralists’ transformation process: a sustainable development approach in the Western Highlands of Cameroon

Mbih, RichardA., Driever, StevenL., Ndzeidze, StephenK., Mbuh, MbongowoJ., Bongadzem, CarineS., Wirngo, HarryM.
Environment, development and sustainability 2018 v.20 no.2 pp. 789-807
cattle, climate change, community development, development projects, education, environmental degradation, grazing, herds, highlands, land use, lifestyle, migratory behavior, politics, population growth, rain, sustainable development, transhumance, Cameroon
The Fulani pastoralists of the Western Highlands of Cameroon are a subgroup of the Fulbe, a wider pastoral group whose members are dispersed across Sub-Saharan Africa. They migrated and settled in the region in the early twentieth century at different times in migratory waves. Since arriving in the region, they have experienced different stages of transformation due to changing socioeconomic, political and ecological conditions influencing their nomadic lifestyle. The Fulani pastoralists have moved from a purely nomadic lifestyle that involved permanent seasonal migration with their herds and families to a semi-nomadic lifestyle involving return to their previous settlements at the end of each transhumance season, and they finally have adopted a more sedentary community lifestyle that involves only the seasonal movement of herdsmen and their cattle during dry periods. This pastoralist transformation process was motivated by the hospitality of native farming communities, the British colonial administration and postcolonial government of Cameroon, population growth and environmental degradation in the Western Highlands of grazing and cultivable land. This transformation has been beneficial to both pastoralists and native farming groups by improving local community development through increased agro-pastoral production and the realization of communal development projects in education and non-agro-pastoral economic activities. Several challenges have confronted this Fulani pastoralist transformation and its community development in the Western Highlands of Cameroon: landuse competition involving farmer–herder conflicts and inter-tribal wars; climate change, including rainfall variability; and environmental degradation including the disappearance of agro-pastoral lands. This paper, based on field research, investigates the various approaches, benefits and challenges involved in Fulani pastoralists’ settlement transformation in the Western Highlands of Cameroon.