Pastoralism has now emerged as the main way of using natural resources sustainably in arid zones. However, it faces numerous obstacles linked to climatic variations, growing competition for access to resources, and the economic issues relating to production.
In relation to the desertification process in particular, farmers and politicians lack biophysical and socioeconomic information on the dynamics and viability of such production systems: mobility of people and animals, specific pastoral vulnerability criteria such as diversification of activities, social integration, water availability for cattle, market prices, etc. CIRAD, as part of its work within the International Research Unit on Pastoralism and with partners in the Sahel, is currently developing a system to fill in those gaps.
The first SIPSA model (information system for pastoralism in the Sahel) has been tested in Senegal. Unlike the systems that existed previously, it includes all the players involved, rather than a single institution. Moreover, the information it relays, such as the state of the water resource and market prices, can be used on a local and also an international scale. It is disseminated by means tailored to the users - written, maps, radio, farmer networks, etc - and at very low cost. The system also makes it possible, depending on user requirements, to disseminate information selectively. For instance, this could mean informing animal farmers of pasture availability, but only in the event of a bad year.
In 2006, the model is being adapted to other partner countries, thanks to national networks of concerned players, coordinated by Aghrymet. The tool, coupled with other information systems (cereals, food security), should help pastoral development players manage crises more efficiently in the short term, fight deseretification and contribute to sustainable development of pastoralism in the Sahel. The programme is due to run until 2009-2010.
Helen Burford | alfa
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The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
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Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
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