Nomads facing change: political mobilisation among Sahelian pastoralists

Titre français du projet: Nomades face aux changements; la mobilisation politique parmi les éleveurs sahéliens.

The project will focus on the political dynamics in the Sahel and the appearance of nomadic pastoralist movements in the context of increasing political instability in the Sahara-Sahel zone: West Africa. More in particular, the increasing participation of the Fulani in political movements and agitation. Fulani pastoralists have so far been relatively invisible and apolitical, yet they are by far the largest nomadic pastoralist group in the Sahel region. The project will try to answer questions like: what factors account for their current conflicts with the State, sedentary neighbours and alienation from their own elite? How will this emergent counter-discourse of resistance develop over time, and what are the implications for regional political, economic and sociocultural stability? These new forms of political mobilization will be investigated within the historical context of 19th century jihadism and the transnational flows inherent in the contemporary connectivity of the Sahel to the world through new Information and communication technologies, international criminal networks, home-grown insurgency and the rise of cohesive regional political structures. The focus is Northern Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. (Photo: Boukary Sangaré).

Visit the project website.

Research project
2016 to 2019

Senior researchers



Fulani, nomads, pastoralists, political participation, jihadism, conflict, resistance, ICT's, criminal networks

Funding and cooperation


NWO-WOTRO: programme ‘Security and the Rule of Law’


Groupe Observation des Dynamiques Sociales Spatiales et Expertise Endogène (ODYSSEE), Mali
Institute de Recherche et de Promotion des Alternatives de Développement en Afrique (IRPAD/AFRIQUE), Mali

Foreign staff involved 
Oumarou Adamou (Laboratoire d’études et recherches sur les dynamiques sociales et le développement local)
Mamadou Goita (IRPAD-Afrique)
Amagoin Keita (groupe ODYSSEE)
Boukary Sangaré (ODYSSEE)