Conflict Reduced in Blue Nile State: Livestock corridors demarcated and farmers compensated

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In the Blue Nile State, a demarcation and compensation process led to the re-opening of 109 kms of livestock corridor late last year. As a result, the reported police cases of conflict between farmers and pastoralists have declined sharply. According to the Blue Nile Peace Council, in previous harvest seasons, around 400 - 500 police cases have been reported comparing to less than 30 cases as of November, 2013.

Abdulrahman Hassan, Head of the Pastoralists Union said “Since the demarcation, no farmer can come and say someone has destroyed his crop, the pastoralists now have enough land without the need to graze their livestock on farmer’s land”.

UNDP together with its partners, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Blue Nile Peace Council, through the Joint Conflict Reduction Programme supported the demarcation and compensation process aiming at restoring communities’ so­cial bonds and livelihoods opportunities.

Ibrahim Shaga, a farmer and father living in Agadi West, Blue Nile State, readily gave up a portion of his land in favour of the corridor and described how farmers in the area felt about it. “We are very happy about this work because it means the animals will no longer enter our land and we can grow crops safely without fear of damage by animals.”

For centuries, pastoralists have migrated with their livestock in search of grazing land along well-trod migratory corridors in the Blue Nile State. With the expansion of mechanized farming and increased livestock densities, as well as variable rainfall and recurrent drought, competition over scarce land and water resources intensified over time.

Dr. Adam Abaker Ismail, General Secretary of the Peace Council and former Minister for Agriculture commented that “if left unchecked, this situation could have ended up like the conflict in Darfur”. He added that during his time as Minister for Agriculture, “between July 2012 and July 2013, there were around 20-30 deaths related to farmer-pastoralist conflict and that since the demarcation started, there have been no reports of deaths”.

When South Sudan became Africa’s newest nation in 2011, the borders closed, further reducing the land available to pastoralists. With both pastoralist and farming communities reliant on access to land for their survival, mounting tensions often boiled over into conflict. Farming crops were damaged as pastoralists were forced to graze livestock on farm land, reducing the crop yields and ultimately, the food security of farming communities. Police routinely received reports of crop damage or conflict between farmers and pastoralists, with members of the Native Administration called upon to mediate the disputes. Whilst a short-term solution was often forged, problems frequently re-arose, What was needed was a more permanent solution. That solution, identified in two conferences, in 2010 and 2012 was the clear demarcation of traditional corridors, coupled with fair compensation to affected farmers.