Civil Peace Service: Crisis prevention and conflict transformation in areas of cross-border transhumance
Title: Civil Peace Service (CPS) programme: Conflict transformation and crisis prevention in areas of cross-border transhumance
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin
Overall term: 2011 to 2017
Extensive migratory herding is a defining characteristic of West Africa: livestock breeders drive their herds to various grazing areas throughout the seasons in search of water and pasture, which can also involve crossing national borders. This type of animal husbandry is known as transhumance and is one of the region's chief economic activities. Increasingly, crop farmers and herders are vying for the same natural resources, such as water and pastures, although their activities are normally mutually complementary. There are often violent disputes during the annual migration movements.
Competition for the shared resources is intensified by poor governance, local mismanagement, the expansion of cropland, environmental degradation, the effects of climate change and the enormous population growth in the region. There is a risk that local conflicts will become politicised and lead to violent ethnic disputes. The conflicts between the user groups, especially those between migratory herders and sedentary arable farmers, and conflicts within these and other user groups are set to become even more acute over the next few years.
In the context of transhumance, natural resources are increasingly being used in a socially equitable, peaceful and sustainable way.
The Civil Peace Service (CPS) programme in Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin supports the non-violent transformation of conflicts in the area of cross-border transhumance. For this purpose, it is strengthening the responsible institutions and existing mechanisms for crisis prevention, such as the decentralised structures of the state authority for land law (Code Rural) in Niger and the transhumance committees in Benin. A key focus is the promotion of exchange and dialogue between the stakeholders who use and manage the resources – especially at the local and cross-border levels.
CPS also supports the active lobbying work of competent civil society organisations. This approach aims to ensure that the concerns of migratory herders are firmly incorporated into local, regional and national development and decision-making processes.
In addition, CPS promotes legal certainty at the local level through the effective, user-oriented and conflict-sensitive application and further development of the relevant regulations and regulatory mechanisms concerning transhumance by state and civil society actors.
Moreover, the establishment and strengthening of structures for cooperation and dialogue encourage networking among the conflicting parties and get them to talk to each other – even across national borders – in order to find sustainable solutions to the conflicts and problems associated with national and transnational transhumance.
In addition to the governmental Rural Code, CPS’ partners are the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) FNEN Daddo and Demi-E in Niger, the cattle breeding associations RECOPA and Andal & Pinal in Burkina Faso, and the NGOs GERED and Potal Men in Benin. These organisations deal with issues of mobile cattle rearing. They are important and well-networked actors in the region, and work to prevent and transform rural, agro-pastoral and resource conflicts.
State and non-governmental actors have developed instruments to promote communication and dialogue and have improved existing mechanisms. For crisis prevention and conflict transformation, items such as training modules, guides, posters, cassettes and radio programmes have been produced.
In Niger, the Code Rural authority and livestock breeder organisations have developed local and cross-border dialogue platforms and drawn up new legislative texts.
In Benin and Burkina Faso, a lobbying process aimed at bringing the legal situation concerning pastoralism up to date has been initiated. Dialogue events have been held at local level together with the municipalities.
As a result of these processes, arable farmers and livestock herders are agreeing on routes and times for passage in advance of the migration movements.
If areas of cultivation are damaged, existing regulations for the compensation of crop farmers are applied.
The ‘transhumance tax’, which was illegally imposed by individual municipalities, has been withdrawn.