With an area estimated to 3.053 million km2, the Sahel has a quickly growing population. According to CILSS, there will be 100 million people in the region by 2020 and 200 million by 2050, almost four times the current population. The region, frequently struck by drought and food insecurity, is one of the areas most severely affected by global climate change in the coming years. With up to 80% of its people living on less than $2 a day, poverty is more widespread in the Sahel than in most other parts of Africa. Sheep farming is very important for the Sahel countries. It does not require a high input at its beginning, so even women and children are involved in small ruminant raising. They provide food and play important socioeconomic factors. However, productivity of livestock including the one of sheep is low. Nutrition is the most important constraint in sheep farming especially during the dry season when both availability and quality of forages are low. The most complex and limiting production factors in sheep farming for the Sahel countries are those concerning nutrition and feed supplies. The objective of this review chapter was to describe the major nutritional constraints to sheep farming systems in the Sahel countries and explore ways of overcoming the most important constraints for efficient and sustainable sheep feeding. Issues addressed in this review include causes of undernutrition and environmental implications, adaptation by sheep to it, and manipulative strategies to cope with feed scarcity in smallholder sheep farming systems.
Part of the book: Sheep Farming