For several years now, the Lake Chad area (a vast expanse of water covering Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad) has been the scene of agro-pastoral conflicts related to herders and their livestock searching for pasture and water. With pasture and water getting scarce, transhumance now tends to end with often-fatal conflicts between pastoralists and farmers.
To help ease tensions and improve the social climate between communities in areas where transhumance is practiced, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the German Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung organized an event on Monday under the theme "Practical solutions to migration, security, and climate change: Initiatives and commitment of civil society and the United Nations to meet and resolve the challenges." The event was organized on the sidelines of the second international ministerial conference on cross-border transhumance being held from July 10 to 12 in Yaoundé.
It brought together state representatives, research partners, civil society organizations from various countries, and donors. It allowed participants to outline some solutions for sustainable, peaceful, and inclusive transhumant pastoralism in the Lake Chad basin, but also in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region.
The speakers stressed the need to tackle the real causes of these conflicts, which persist with the growing impacts of climate change. They recommended "constructive and progressive diagnoses" of the transhumance phenomenon, taking into account each country’s constraints and specificities. "It is impossible to find sustainable solutions if the diagnosis is not properly made," said Paul Tchawa, Secretary General of Cameroon's Ministry of the Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (Minepded). The speakers also recommended greater coordination between the various stakeholders.
They also agreed on the need to include local populations in the search for solutions, as the problems generated by the practice of uncontrolled and unregulated transhumance have a direct impact on host communities. To this end, they suggest the creation of appropriate frameworks in which host communities’ voices can be heard, allowing the identification of appropriate solutions. They also recommend "destigmatizing" transhumance, pointing out that it is also beneficial to migrants and societies if properly managed.
"The solutions agreed upon are consensual. We believe they give us the right framework for implementing these recommendations. We think [...] we will be able to raise the necessary funding to implement these recommendations, but also to use existing platforms," assured IOM's Head of Mission in Cameroon, Abdel Rahmane Diop. "Cameroon has signed the Global Compact for Migration. Next year, there will be a regional review. We believe that we can leverage this to resolve data-related issues and enable Cameroon to demonstrate a very positive rapport towards the implementation of the said pact,” he added.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem