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ECOWAS Security experts brainstorm to end herdsmen/farmers clash

ECOWAS member states are set to review regional regulations on transhumance to curb herdsmen and farmers’ crisis in the region.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Sekou Sangare stated this at the ongoing Experts Regional Conference on Transhumance in Abuja.

The Experts on conflicts between herders and farmers from ECOWAS member countries are deliberating on how to ensure peaceful coexistence amongst farmers and herders in the region.

Mr. Sangare said the review was pertinent to address current trends that existed in addressing recurrent clashes between herders and farmers.

The Director, Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Alain Sy Traore who spoke to journalists on behalf of the commissioner, added that member states were also responsible for implementing regional regulations at the national level.

He said that ECOWAS member countries were expected to establish transhumance committees to address the issues of livestock management in the region which only seven member states have established already.

From the 15 member states, only seven have established the transhumance committees; that is a serious problem, Mr. Traore stated.

All Sahel countries have done it because the issue of transhumance is more recurrent; Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo, Benin.

Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and those countries not really tackling the issue are yet to set up such committees; this is now becoming more of a security issue, I am sure they will.

We are growing in terms of population and we cannot practice transhumance activities like it was in the 1960s; it is the 21st century we have to change, Traore added.

The Commissioner said that ECOWAS was developing investment programmes to redefine the livestock value chain in West Africa and also working with development partners to invest in countries.

The ECOWAS Director, Peacekeeping and Regional Security, Dr Cyriaque Agnekethom, also reiterated the need to review regulations on small arms and light weapons.

Today, herders, instead of using sticks to move their animals, use weapons and it is a serious matter of concern for ECOWAS.

One of the instruments that ECOWAS has put in place since 2006 is the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons which aims at regulating the possession of arms.

Questions are being raised as to how herders access weapon with existing regulations.

During the meeting, we will try to understand, is it that the regulations are not explicit enough, or member states are not putting appropriate measures to implement the provisions of the convention?

Mr. Agnekethom further called on member states to set up their national commissions on small arms to coordinate countries’ efforts in the control of small arms and light weapons.

One of the provisions is for member states to establish a National Commission on Small Arms to coordinate countries’ efforts in the control of small arm and light weapons, he explained.

We know there are positive developments from Nigeria in that regard but in many of our member states, they are not functioning, Agnekethom added.

The ECOWAS meeting of Ministers of Security and Agriculture/Animal Resources on Transhumance Security is aimed at resolving the challenges posed by conflicts between farmers and herders in the region.

The ministerial meeting organised by the Nigerian government in collaboration with ECOWAS Commission is scheduled to take place in Abuja on 26th of April.

The theme for the meeting is Transhumance Security: Working together for regional integration, peace and security.

Source: Voice of Nigeria