Interregional workshop of good practices on farmer-herder dynamics in West and Central Africa
The United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the Office of the Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel (OSCDS), have organized, from 29 to 30 September in Yaoundé, Cameroon, an interregional workshop on good practices on farmer-herder dynamics in West and Central Africa. Organized with the support of the Government of Cameroon and the Office of the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Cameroon, the workshop brought together participants from four Central African countries (Cameroon, CAR, Chad and DRC) and three West Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia).
During the exchanges, the participants shared good practices on prevention and management of conflicts, especially mechanisms for dialogue and early warning and supervision, as well as alternatives to traditional transhumance. They noted the importance of structuring the various dialogue mechanisms and branches at all levels and the support of the State.
Participants also stressed the importance of inclusiveness of these mechanisms, including the involvement of women and young people, as well as adaptation to the local context. Regarding the supervision of transhumance, the participants called on the States to strengthen it at the local, national and regional level. They recommended taking into account local realities in the establishment of regulatory frameworks. While emphasizing the usefulness of joint commissions, participants recognized the need to revitalize them.
The workshop also presented alternatives to traditional transhumance, in particular through different models of sedentarization, in a sustainable or ad hoc structural way in specific localities, as well as accompanying measures to ensure their socio-cultural and economic acceptability.
Regarding insecurity, the participants insisted on the need to secure the transhumance corridors for a peaceful transhumance. In view of the vulnerability of young people to recruitment and exploitation by armed groups, participants noted the need to create economic opportunities. In this context, social cohesion was also mentioned as an important factor in preventing cycles of violence and strengthening the relationship between different communities, as well as between them and state authorities.
The change of narrative around transhumance was also recommended in order to fight against the stigmatization of certain communities. Participants stressed the importance of focusing the narrative on the economic potential of this activity instead of highlighting the security challenges. The participants agreed on the need to deepen the sharing of experiences through joint field visits for which several options were identified.
The establishment of a community of practice was discussed and will be an integral part of the roadmap for the next steps of the joint UNOCA and UNOWAS project on the dynamics of conflicts between herders and farmers in Central and West Africa which will allow to encourage and systematize exchanges of good practices between countries and regions.