The Security Challenges of Pastoralism in Central Africa
Nairobi/Brussels | 1 Apr 2014
Sensible, inclusive regulation of pastoralism that has mitigated tension in parts of the Sahel should be extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), where conflicts have worsened with the southward expansion of pastoralism.
In its latest report, Central Africa: The Security Challenges of Pastoralism, the International Crisis Group Group analyses an under-reported human security problem: violent conflicts related to the expansion of pastoralism southward from the Sahel. This dynamic is problematic because pastoral ecosystems transcend borders and transhumance creates new settlement fronts and sources of friction in Central Africa.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Pastoralism generates wealth and economic interdependence but also causes tensions, usually over water or pasture. In the last few years, conflicts have intensified because of growing insecurity and small-arms proliferation; climate change and the southward shift of cattle migration; the multipli-cation of transhumance roads, especially transnational routes; expansion of cultivated areas into traditional grazing lands; and growing cattle herds
In Chad, the government should reinforce regulation of cattle migration by deploying staff from the livestock ministry to improve marking and organisation of transhumance roads and of cattle resting areas and to provide services along roads and next to cattle markets.
In CAR, even before the ongoing crisis, violent clashes between Chadian herdsmen and the local population caused thousands to flee their homes during the past years. Ahead of the migration sea-son, the regional organisation in charge of pastoralism (CEBEVIRAH) should organise a meeting with the CAR and Chad governments to establish monitoring mechanisms and reduce tensions. Af-ter CAR is stabilised, both countries need to negotiate clear regulations together with pastoralists and farmers to prevent future conflict.
In the DRC, tensions between the migrant Mbororo community – from the Peul ethnic group – and local farmers in Orientale Province could be calmed by giving Mbororo pastoralists official permission to remain, monitoring them, establishing mediation committees and developing economic interactions between them and the local population.
“Conflicts linked to pastoralist movements from Chad to CAR or into north-eastern DRC take place in deeply rural areas” says Central Africa Analyst Thibaud Lesueur. “Despite a growing death toll, they are invisible and neglected by the governments”
“Pastoralism needs to be regulated effectively in this region”, says Central Africa Project Director Thierry Vircoulon. “But regulation cannot be imposed: it must be negotiated between state and non-state actors and must foster economic interdependence between pastoralists and farmers”.