, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 53-62

An assessment of Gereih AI Sarha pilot scheme for the settlement of the nomads and improvement of the livestock sector in the Sudan

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Summary and Conclusions

The early attempts to develop the livestock sectors in the Sudan were sectoral in nature. Those attempts were based upon provision of limited veterinary services and extending and improving upon the supplies of rural water. However, no improvements in the pasture resources were made, and livestock continued to subsist on natural and unimproved vegetation. The veterinary and water provision resulted in increase in the livestock, leading to serious degradation in the natural plant cover and soil. On the other hand, the recent attempts in Gereih AI Sarha and the Muglad region were experimental in nature aiming at collecting information needed for proper and overall planning of the livestock sector. The strategy adopted was based on a development approach which included planning for development of man (to settle the nomads), provision of services for man and his livestock, experimenting on sound management of resources, and development of subsidiary economic activities. At the first look, the approach adopted seemed sound. However, the programme faced problems and did not yield the desired results neither in Gereih AI Sarha nor in the 4 Muglad stations.

Two sets of problems have been identified in this paper.

  1. problems of logistics which included lack of funds, difficulties of recruiting research personnel, and tribal disputes over the communal ownership of the grazing land. These problems limited any substantial development; and as a result no improvements on the efficiency of the livestock production were made. Furthermore, overgrazing and deterioration in the plant cover continued.

  2. problems related to the approach for settling the nomads. The first problem here was confusing the concept of “pilot experiment” with “development scheme” where research played no significant role. The second problem was that the experiments showed that the carrying capacity in the dry lands where irrigation is not possible is very limited while the animal and the human population are increasing.

It is recognized more and more that it is high time that the livestock sector which was somewhat neglected, in the past, in comparison to the other sectors, should be developed. The suggested approach for development of the livestock in this paper is an evolutionary one based on:

  1. Planning and providing more services for human and livestock, on the hope that the nomads make use of these services and be attached to the service centres, and gradually the nomads change to transhumance (settlement of the households while animals move under the care of a few shepherds) instead of nomadism (movement of the whole households and animals). Some of the services such as the veterinary and provision of water will have direct impact on the livestock in that they will reduce animal mortality and improve the quality.

  2. Establishing and strengthening the existing experimental stations such as those of Gereih Al Sarha and the Muglad, but limiting the duties of these stations to do research in the fields of proper management of resources, animal diseases and animal science, water harvesting and range and pasture. Extension work, which is usually neglected in the Sudan, should be strengthened and be the channel through which research results flow from the research stations to the users.

  3. To relieve the dry lands from environmental stress as a result of increase in the number of human population and animals, out-migration should be encouraged.