Civil Peace Service: Crisis prevention and conflict transformation in areas of cross-border transhumance
Title: Civil Peace Service: 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 2021
Extensive migratory herding is a defining characteristic of West Africa; livestock farmers drive their herds to different grazing areas throughout the seasons in search of water and pasture, which can also involve crossing international borders. This type of livestock farming is known as transhumance and is one of the region's key economic activities. Increasingly, arable 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 expected to become even more acute over the next few years.
Niger and Burkina Faso are particularly affected by political instability and violent disputes in the region. This situation may intensify existing conflicts over access to natural resources.
In the context of cross-border 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.
The CPS also supports the active lobbying work of competent civil society organisations. This approach aims to ensure that the concerns of migratory herders are sustainably incorporated into local, regional and national development and decision-making processes.
In addition, the CPS promotes legal certainty at the local level through the effective, user-oriented and conflict-sensitive application and further development of relevant regulations and regulatory mechanisms in the area of transhumance by state and civil society actors.
The establishment and strengthening of cooperation and dialogue structures bring the conflicting parties together and encourage them to talk to each other, even across international borders. The goal is to find sustainable solutions to the conflicts and problems associated with national and transnational transhumance.
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, Code Rural 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 on pastoralism up to date has been initiated. Dialogue events have taken place at the local level with the municipalities.
As a result, 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 arable farmers are applied.
According to local police, there are fewer conflicts.