The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday said it has begun putting in place measures to curtail clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the sub-region.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, said this while responding to issues raised by members of the ECOWAS Parliament at its ongoing 2016 first ordinary session.
Alain de Souza said that the ECOWAS had begun creating transhumance corridors where herdsmen and their cattle would be taken care of.
The challenges of transhumance are not new; that way of life is the tradition of the cattle rearers. But with the movement of cattle rearers coming from the northern part to the coastline, there is the problem of them moving to farms and destroying produce.
We, being aware of this, are setting up some test cases and we are taking countries like Benin and Togo to organise the passages and movement of the cattle coming down.
We have also the test case between Niger and Burkina Faso. We set up corridors; these are areas that are mapped out for animals to move and along those corridors.
We have also set up what we call restaurants in terms of having grazing areas for the cattle and clinics for herdsmen.
This is to avoid a situation where we permanently are having clashes.
We are also looking at a situation where we will bring people together, the cattle breeders and farmers, so that they can negotiate, understand one another and can be sensitised on the essence of the corridors.
The commission’s president emphasised the need for joint surveillance of the corridors “if it crosses borders” adding that it would stem the rise of crisis. “We must not wait for thousands to die before we act,” he said.
Alain de Souza also said that the ECOWAS was also strengthening its early warning mechanism to ensure that it was effective in all member states to mitigate crises in the sub-region.
He said that the early warning mechanism was being implemented in five member states adding that “this is a tool we have to put in place”.