Pastoralism in Africa faces new challenges in an era of climate change, despite some improvements in policy and legislative frameworks as well as sporadic investment in pastoral development. There are concerns that pastoralism will not be sustainable in a climate-affected world, and this is seeing the return of policies to settle pastoralists and introduce modern cropping. Pastoralism is not yet understood as a specialisation to take advantage of instability and variability, and as a result, the trend has continued towards replacing pastoralism as a livelihood strategy rather than investing in it.
It is in this context that a study conducted in eastern Mauritania between 1999 and 2001 is presented here to demonstrate the economic value of ephemeral wetlands as multi-use resources for pastoralism, agriculture and biodiversity. The study assesses the benefits of multiple-use systems compared to such single-use systems through economic valuation of production from the respective systems. Arable agriculture, livestock rearing and botanical and other natural resources are valued in the case of multiple-use systems and compared to arable production from single-use systems.