After months of reconciliation attempts and frustrations, it was a big sigh of relief when in April 2011 elders from communities in Chari Baguirmi Region of Chad put aside their initial resistance and agreed to give peaceful coexistence a chance. Through dialogue, the two communities of Elfass and Kadada have come back to the negotiating table to voice their concerns and seek viable solutions that can bring about non-violent management of natural resources.
Conflicts over control of land and water resources between farmers and pastoralists are common along the areas where farming and pastoralism inter-sect such as Chari Baguirmi, Guera, Hadjer Lamis and Ouaddaï prefectures. The conflicts usually arise from destruction of crop fields by the livestock. In response, the resident farmers and agro-pastoralists erect barricades around farm areas and across passages leading to productive land.
"Sometimes, the farmers and pastoralists were required to pay hefty fines to the authorities even when they were the aggrieved side, thereby heightening the tension", explains a member of a grassroots network.
"Increased human and livestock populations has resulted in increased competition for resources including productive land and water. This has contributed significantly to the inter-communal conflicts especially between pastoralists and farmers", notes Ndade Clementine of ACORD in Chad.
With funding from Counterpart International, ACORD has been addressing this delicate situation by providing mediation between the warring communities as well as others who are affected within the localities of Kadada and Elfass in Chari-Baguirmi Region. A consultation framework has been put in place which has facilitated dialogue enabling each side to express themselves freely on the causes of the conflicts. This programme has also incorporated a training component for the local authorities on effective conflict resolution techniques.
More than 150,000 have Benefited!
ACORD creates space for dialogue between vulnerable groups, local authorities and different stakeholders to improve local strategies of management of natural resources and promote the emergence of an environment that is friendly to citizen participation in discussions, reflection and knowledge-sharing on issues affecting them.
This approach is proving effective as more farmers and pastoralists are knocking at the peace mediators' doors to be involved in the peace process. More than 150,000 people from the 4 regions have so far benefitted from the peace-building initiative.
"Thanks to the local peace-building framework we are ready to live as brothers and sisters. When a member of the network organises a celebration or a funeral, we provide moral, financial and material support. We are no longer enemies, we are now friends", says Moussa Hassaballa, a pastoralists' representative from Chari-Baguirma.