Cross border conference promotes peaceful coexistence between pastoralists and host communities in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal

Falata pastoralists joined Luo and Dinka Malual communities at an UNMISS-hosted cross-border conference to resolve tensions over scarce natural resources

21 Dec 2021

Cross border conference promotes peaceful coexistence between pastoralists and host communities in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal

Emmanuel Kele

A special committee involving representatives from nomadic groups and host communities has been set up to monitor the implementation of local agreements and help draft new laws governing resource management in an effort to reduce conflict in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal.

Tensions often rise over the sharing of natural resources between Falata pastoralists, a West African nomadic tribe which moved and settled in the Aroyo and Awada areas in 2005 seeking water and grazing land for their animals, and the Luo and Dinka Malual host communities who rely on farming for their economic survival.

The groups were brought together for a three-day internal border conference by the Civil Affairs Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan in Aweil to discuss issues such as the cutting down of trees and burning of grass, killing of animals, and scarcity of water.

“Trees such as the lulu and tamarin are important to us as the host community,” said Lual Diing, on behalf of the Dinka Malual. “These are often cut down and destroyed and bushes are burnt. This must stop so that we can all benefit from our local environment.”

A number of resolutions were made at the conclusion of the conference and the new joint committee was established to help monitor and implement the agreement.

“We brought the groups together to discuss how they can identify challenges that may trigger violence and find ways to overcome them so there can be peaceful coexistence,” said UNMISS Civil Affairs officer, Ma Inecita Motero. “We are pleased that the three communities came up with mutually agreeable local and traditional mechanisms where they can address and manage any issues that may arise to prevent conflict.”

Agriculture is key to the economy in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal, ensuring that communities have access to healthy food and incomes. The agreement between the groups will support the equitable sharing of resources, ensure that trees cannot be randomly cut down, and that local authorities will be notified of any movement of stock or unlawful activity.

“It is important that the pastoralist Falata group and agriculturalist host communities agree on where to keep their particular animals to reduce tension. These communities must share resources and live together in peace,” said the Minister for Peacebuilding, Abuor Gordon.

The Deputy Governor of Northern Bahr El-Ghazal, Tong Lual Ayat, said the government is working on development projects that will deliver dividends to the three communities if they are able to live peacefully together.

“For development to reach this area, we have to connect it to other locations by building new roads to enhance trade and economic growth,” said Tong Lual Ayat. “But development does not come from nothing. It only comes when there is peace.”