Potentially explosive situation at Guiaro

It is during the rainy season that there is the highest number of disputes between farmers and pastoralists. At Guiaro the damage caused on July 27 by roaming bulls set fire to the powder keg of violence. The result is that scores of people no longer have shelter. Calm was restored after mediation. But for how long?

Destroyed homes, straw cover on fields dispersed, grain stores up in smoke, implements reduced to ashes, cattle scattered around. This is the scene of desolation that meets the eye at he Fulani camp at Koeniassa in the village of Bouya, a rural community in Guiaro, province of Nahouri, on July 28. In the emergency the homeless have been temporarily housed in the classrooms of the CEG school in the community, but others are reported missing. Bandé Sadio, representing the victims, reports: “Our mothers, wives and children are dispersed and we do not know where they are at present.” According to the mayor of the community there are 127 people without shelter.

A conflict that has been lurking for decades

The present outbreak on July 27 was triggered by a conflict between communities, opposing the indigenous Gourounsi, of which nearly all are farmers, and Fulani migrants, of which most are cattle herders on July 26.. At the root of the dispute was de damage caused by the migrants’ roaming herds on the fields of the farmers on July 25. As the two parties were preparing for a peaceful settlement of the dispute, a second ravage took place. In renewed anger the villagers undertook a punishing expedition against the migrants. In actual fact the damage caused is only the last drop in a series of similar events. The root of the conflict goes back to 2015, when the government started to develop a grazing area for cattle in the municipality of Guiaro. Since the setting up of this zone for pastoralists, the tensions have been rising between farmers and cattle herders. The herders have been asked to move off from their camp and settle in the pastoral zone of Guiaro, where unfortunately preparations have not yet been completed. The government services have not yet staked out the area to facilitate the final resettlement of the herders concerned.

Termination of planned infrastructure

Today, Monday August 8, as we are writing this report, the local authorities are at work to appease the situation. A first meeting took place on July 28, between the parties to the conflict and the local political authorities, the traditional chiefs, religious representatives, security services and technical staff to try and settle the dispute.The two parties made a commitment to forgive each other in order to restore peace and stability in the community.

As a short term recommendation the PASMEP (Platforme for security action for pastoral households) states that for a long term solution of the conflict, the government and its agencies should speed up the infrastructure work and the assignment of the pastoral zone. This would enable each of the parties to occupy the land that they are entitled to. Beyond the situation at Guiaro, the government should endeavour to effectively implement the legislation and various regulations concerning pastoralists, rural land tenure, environment etc.

To recapitulate the Community of Guiaro is among the six municipalities selected for action by PASMEP. 4 pastoralist groups, among them the mixed group of Konafata, Bouya, has been included in the work of PRECOP/CS (Project for strengthening capacities of the pastoral organisations in the Centre Sud province, a project financed by Miséreor). The victims of the conflict belong to the group of Konafata.

Fatimata VALEA

In charge of follow up and evaluation/PASMEP

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