Improving the methodology for the enumeration of nomadic and transhumant livestock in Mali

Nomadic and transhumant livestock represent an important part of the livestock sector in Mali (more than 30% in some regions) and therefore significantly contribute to the country’s economic activities.

Better statistics on this livestock category are essential not only for policy planning but also for a better prevention of recurrent conflicts between farmers and herders in the country and for a better management of the water resources used for crops, livestock and fisheries.

As part of the technical assistance component of the Global Strategy, a workshop was held in Mali to train experts on the Guidelines on the enumeration of nomadic and semi nomadic (transhumant) livestock. The workshop was held in partnership with AFRISTAT in January 2018. Following the workshop,  participants requested additional support from the Global Strategy for pilot-testing the country’s current methodology for the upcoming census of nomadic and transhumant livestock and for testing alternative approaches.

The pilot test was held in the locality of Bougouni (about 160 km south of Bamako) on 22-24 March 2018. The main objective was to test the current data collection tools (questionnaires and manual counting machine), the counting approach of the census (by livestock races) and to test alternative counting approaches (by livestock sex). Watering points (dam, river and hole) were used as enumeration points as planned for the census. Three teams of enumerators counted animal species with a disaggregation by sex, race or simply without disaggregation using manual counters and entering data in a CAPI application. Counting machines are used because herders are reluctant to  counting their animals using fingers for cultural reasons.

The results of the test show no significant difference between livestock numbers counted by sex and race. Enumerators experienced some issues in distinguishing both race and sex. but The identification of animals’ sex was particularly difficult especially when they were in movement and endangered enumerators as it required for them to get close to the animals. An additional important issue was the unusual recurrence of herds without shepherd. This issue will need to be solved prior to the census as it requires asking the herders a number of questions.

Following the pilot test, substantial recommendations were provided to national statistical authorities on the overall methodology of the upcoming census, in general, and in particular, on the contents of the questionnaires and the quality of the CAPI application.