Livestock contributes significantly to livelihoods of rural populations in West Africa and play a central role as an engine for rural development and sustainable food and nutritional security for both rural and peri-urban households. A significant area of the region however is highly infested by the tsetse flies, a vector of trypanosomiasis, which affects both livestock and therewith livelihoods. The use of endemics ruminant livestock (ERL), such as N’Dama cattle, Djallonké sheep and West African Dwarf goats, is seen as an alternative strategy to overcome the trypanosomiasis problem. These ERL constitute 70% of the total ruminant population in the region. There are however threats to these breeds which include degradation, destruction of their natural habitat, as well as increased prevalence of zebu and sahelian genotypes often perceived to be more productive, and production and market constraints.
The Sustainable Management of Globally Significant Endemic Ruminant Livestock in West Africa (PROGEBE) project aims at developing and implementing models for community based conservation and management of critical habitats for these species and to demonstrate strategies for preserving the unique genetic trait/habitat complexes that are of global importance. The project specifically centres its strategy on the following outcomes: (i) conserve ERL genetic traits and increase its productivity; (ii) promote market development and incentives; (iii) promote greater sustainable management of their ecosystem; (iv) facilitate the implementation of policies, legal and institutional frameworks favourable to their development, and (v) improve cooperation, knowledge management and information sharing at the national and international levels.