1. Home
  2. West Africa
  3. Mauritania

New cattle migration accord cools long-standing flashpoint

Country Map - Mauritania, Senegal IRIN
A new accord between Senegal and Mauritania sets down the rules for the passage of animal herders across the shared border, a problem that once erupted into a deadly war. Each year in the lean season before the rains of May and June, at least a million head of Mauritanian cattle, or between 5 and 10 percent of the country’s livestock, cross the border into Senegal and Mali to get water and pasture before the rainy season replenishes Mauritania’s arid plains. “This agreement is important because the competition is getting stronger and stronger between agriculturalists and cattle breeders” said Moktar Fall, director of cattle breeding at the Ministry of Rural and Environmental Development. According to the new agreement, which was signed in Nouakachott on 25 April 2006, herdsmen will have to apply for official permits to allow them to cross the frontier. Crossings will be allowed only during daylight and at fixed points. In a nod to mounting health concerns in the region, the agreement also stipulates that the two countries will exchange information on health and sanitation issues, and obliges the herders to give information on the vaccination of their cattle. “In the coming days this text will be sent to all the Mauritanian authorities and translated into the different languages of the country”, said Fall. When a dispute over flows of cattle across the shared border reached boiling point in 1989 it sparked a brief bloody border war between Mauritania and Senegal, in which hundreds of people died on both sides of the border and tens of thousands fled.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.