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 2020
Extensive mobility herding is a defining characteristic of West Africa: livestock breeders 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 animal husbandry is known as transhumance and is one of the region's chief economic activities. Increasingly, crop farmers and herders are contesting for the same natural resources, such as water and pastures, although their activities are historically mutually complementary. There are often violent disputes during the annual transhumance 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 mobile herders and sedentary farmers, and conflicts within these and other user groups are set to become even more acute over the next few years.
In addition, Niger and Burkina Faso in particular are affected by armed conflicts in the region. This situation can exacerbate existing conflicts over access to natural resources
In the context of cross border pastoral mobility, natural resources are increasingly being used in a socially equitable, peaceful and sustainable way.
The Civil Peace Service (CPS) program 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 conflict prevention, such as the decentralised structures of the state authority for land law (Code Rural) in Niger and the transhumance committees in Benin.
CPS also supports the active lobbying work of competent civil society organisations. This approach aims to ensure that the concerns of mobile 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.
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 are being 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.
According to local police, the number of conflicts are reducing.