This paper describes research that established the need for a pastoral credit system among WoDaaBe herders in central Niger, carried out between 1980 and 1982 as part of the Niger Range and Livestock (NRL) Project. This paper concerns only WoDaaBe herders, a subgroup of the Fulani found throughout West Africa. The research carried out included detailed budget and labour use studies lasting from one to two years on a sample of fourteen WoDaaBe household production units. The figures referred to in this paper are based partly on these detailed studies and partly on much wider surveys of WoDaaBe production systems throughout Niger's pastoral zone.
There are three main questions to be asked about any proposed credit scheme: is it necessary; is it feasible; how does it compare with other possible uses of the same limited credit funds? This paper deals only with the first of these three questions. There is little experience with credit among pastoralists; it is therefore important to establish clearly a justification for credit in specific circumstances.