The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Nigeria, NIPSS, has called on the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS to harmonise and enhance the implementation of transhumance regulation among member states.
It is in the bid to integrate the traditional stock routes used by different pastoralist clans, customary transhumance corridors and grazing areas.
The call was made in a presentation delivered by Ambassador Usman Sarki, Directing Staff of NIPSS, on the Nigerian Legislation on Transhumance and management of disputes between herdsmen and farmers at the Parliamentary Seminar on Transhumance and Inter-community conflicts, organised by the ECOWAS Parliament, convening in Monrovia.
Ambassador Sarki said;”there is need for ECOWAS to develop a 20-year Plan for Transhumance Risk Mitigation and Reduction with a view to creating the enabling environment for peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers.”
He said that the plan should take into consideration long-term measures such as demographic stabilisation, climate change impact assessment, hydrological survey, establishment of regional grazing reserves, and development of grazing corridors between and among ECOWAS Member States.
Discussing the background of transhumance in West Africa, Ambassador Sarki said that the region’s traditional migratory linkages and exchanges of people, goods and services predicated on the historic and age-old long-distance trade in commodities like cattle, fish and other essential have of late been disturbed by factors like conflicts.
“Receding surface waters in many areas of West Africa occasioned by drought and climate change, as well as reduced grazing areas have also impacted heavily on the lifestyle of pastoral farers and adversely affected the scope of their economic activities.
“A very important characteristic of both sedentary and pastoral farmers in the ECOWAS region and indeed in most of Africa, is that they are both relegated to the subsistence and informal levels;” Ambassador Sarki stated.
Furthermore, he said pastoral farmers have been left to their own devices in almost all African countries, with little or no support from governments or attention towards their modernisation.
According to him, ”disputes between farmers and herdsmen is attributed to land ownership, and grazing of livestock by herdsmen.”
Ambassador Sarki explained that destruction of crops by herdsmen among others have existed for a long time, and hence, ”there is need for harmonisation which can be realised through strict adherence to the ECOWAS Protocol Decision of 1998 and Regulations on Transhumance of 2003.”
He said ECOWAS should promote gender specific policies and empowerment programmes at grassroots levels, develop youths empowerment policies, identify opportunities for farmers and herders.
Ambassador Sarki also urged ECOWAS to maximise the use of available spaces, establish mechanisms for monitoring of transhumance activities across West Africa, develop early warning and horizon scanning strategies in a bid to prevent conflicts related to transhumance activities in the region.