Climate change threats to semi-arid transhumance grazing systems: proposals for adaptation in Cabo Verde Conference Paper uri icon


  • Global warming has changed the rainfall regime in the Sahelian region, endangering and widespread poverty and chronic famines in Cape Verde, where rural communities' well-being and food security depend on rainy agriculture. Local responses to rainfall new patterns and scarcity have been livestock reduction with significant revenue losses. Together with dry mist occurrences, these environmental constraints demand to define priority actions to adapt and mitigate climate change's direct impacts. According to fifty household inquiries, this work explains the transhumant grazing practices on a semi-arid plateau in Tarrafal (Santiago, Cabo Verde), prospecting adaptation alternatives for sustainability. We related grazing patterns and pastoral infrastructures to the household's socioeconomics, analyzing the livestock system - composition and management - and their relationship to rangeland utilization. Livestock of male-headed households is different from female-headed ones, mainly cattle in the firsts and goats in the lasts. Herds decreased during the 2016-2018 drought, including equine that lost interest in supporting farmers that abandoned the most remote agriculture patches. Based on a carrying capacity zoning, the geographical analysis assessed existing water supply structures' suitability and designated new ones to improve transhumance effectiveness. New watering points along principal depressions allow to establish forage species - Parkinsonia aculeata, Opuntia ficus-indica, Pannisetum pedicellatum, and Desmanthus virgathus – and reduce stormwater runoff. It also means to improve natural resources by biodiversity conservation and wildlife management. These and other proposals could sustain and adapt the Tarrafal transhumant grazing system to climate change, reduce the farmers' income loss, and improve food security.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021