The Political Ecology of Peasant-Herder Conflicts in the Northern Ivory Coast

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Following the great Sahelian drought of the early 1970s, an unprecedented number of Fulani pastoralists immigrated to the Ivory Coast with their cattle. Although welcomed by the Ivorian government for their contribution to national beef production, the Fulani's presence has been bitterly opposed by Senufo peasants in the savanna region over the problem of uncompensated crop damage. I examine the nature of peasant-herder conflicts in northern Ivory Coast from a “political ecology” perspective and argue that it is at the intersection of Ivorian political economy and the human ecology of agricultural systems in the savanna region that one can begin to identify the key processes and decision-making conditions behind the current conflict. Micro- and macro-level processes involving the transfer of resources from Senufo households are considered to be central to the strife. The case study seeks to contribute to the growing literature on peasant-herder interactions in sub-Saharan Africa by viewing peasant-herder conflicts as “responses in context.” The political ecology approach provides a framework for human ecologists interested in examining the interrelationships between local patterns of resource use and the larger political economy. Data collected to analyze the nature of the conflict in the Korhogo region during a seventeen-month period in 198182 and 1986 include survey research questionnaires, pastoral and farm management studies, participant observation and interviews with peasants, herders and livestock development officials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-472
Number of pages20
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1988


  • Fulani
  • Senufo
  • crop damage
  • peasant-herder conflicts
  • political ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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