Nelly Bassily | January 25, 2010
All too often, we hear reports of tension between herdsmen and farmers that erupts into violence. The source of conflict is generally land or water – two natural resources essential to the livelihoods of both groups. Those who study trends in conflict raise concerns that the growing scarcity of these resources, as a result of population growth and climate change, could lead to increasing conflict.Watermelons a sign of peace between farmers and herders” (Issue #22).
It is encouraging to note that, in the face of these pressures, there are also many examples of farmers and pastoralists finding paths to peace. In May 2008, FRW featured a story from Sudan about herders and farmers benefiting from a cooperative relationship: “
The following Farm Radio scripts describe fictionalized – though realistic – community conflicts. They suggest reasons why conflict over land and water resources can become so contentious, and some ways that such conflicts can be resolved:
-“Conflict over natural resources: A short story” (Package 67, Script 7, June 2003)
-“Dispute over a sacred stream: Villagers describe the conflict” (Package 67, Script 6, June 2003)
Whether the communities in your broadcast area are experiencing a violent conflict, or are simply subject to tensions that can occur wherever resources are shared, you might consider the role your radio organization can play in reducing conflict. The following resources, taken from previous installments of FRW’s Radio Resource Bank, may help you to get started:
–Using radio to help communities talk by the Straight Talk Foundation
–A checklist for conflict-sensitive journalism by the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society and International Media Support
For more information on pastoralism, visit the following websites:
-World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism: http://www.iucn.org/wisp/
-Pastoralist Communication Initiative: http://www.pastoralists.org/
Finally, here are some questions to begin a discussion or debate on the importance of livestock rearing and pastoralism in your area:
-What percentage of the local population makes its living through pastoralism?
-What types of investments does your national government make in livestock rearing?
-Are there pastoralist networks in your region? What sort of services do they offer to herders?
-What kind of access do pastoralists have to livestock markets? Can they obtain information on market prices to empower them in sales negotiations?
-What sort of income-generating activities do pastoralist women engage in?
-How do pastoralists in your region ensure adequate access to water and pasture during dry periods?
-What other steps do pastoralists take to ensure their livelihoods (such as diversifying the age and species of their livestock)?
-How are conflicts between herders and farmers resolved? What are the best mediation strategies to assure food security for both groups?