Development among nomadic herders in dry West Africa has been an unsuccessful undertaking. Many governments and bilateral and multilateral agencies have failed to improve things, or have made them worse. There is now a feeling among some donors and governments that the problems are too great and returns too low, and that scarce development resources should be redirected to projects offering a better chance of success and of higher rates of return.
There are several related reasons for these failures, which should be analysed for the lessons they contain. We are concerned here with two main causes of failure of Sahelian livestock projects: first, the way pastoral development problems are defined, and what gets defined as a problem; second, the lack of an appropriate institutional framework for pastoral development.