Marial Bai Agreement to regulate relations between farmers and pastoralists in Wau area
Seasonal migration of pastoralists from Tonj and Gogrial to Wau State during the dry season will this time depend on the fulfillments of requirements imposed by the Marial Bai Agreement of 15-17 December 2016. The agreement is intended to regulate the relationship between pastoralists and farmers.
“No pastoralist will be allowed to carry gun during migration in dry season to Wau. Whoever found doing so will be disarmed by the government .Nobody will be allowed to bring his cattle to Wau without a letter of permission from their chiefs. Whoever violates this will be denied entry to Wau State”, David Mangok Mawien, Secretary for the Interstate Coordination Committee, said.
Mr. Mawien made this statement during a two- day forum on 20-21 December, supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Civil Affairs Division. The objective of the forum was to disseminate the key points of the agreement to stakeholders from the Kapile, Baggari and Besselia counties in Wau State.
Mr. Mawien explained that the agreement provides for compensation in case cattle destroy a farmer’s crops and if a farmer kills a cow destroying his crops.
“The agreement provides for compensation; the highest pay is 100 SSP per cassava plant destroyed and the lowest is 10 SSP per tobacco plant destroyed by cattle. Also if a farmer kills a cow, he has to compensate the owner with another cow”.
Antonito John, a forum participant, said pastoralists and agriculturalists should learn to co-exist.
“Pastoralists depend on farmers and farmers depend on pastoralist. The agreement should be a binding document. It is the responsibility of the chiefs to ensure that this agreement is implemented”, Mr. John said.
Susana Patrick Ibrahim, another forum participant who has been staying at the UNMISS Protection of Civilians (PoC) site since 2013, is one of many victims of previous conflicts.
“We are happy with this agreement. We must co-exist peacefully from now on. Look, I lost my belongings to the conflict between pastoralists and agriculturalists. I have nothing, nothing at all. Now I am living in UNMISS protection site. I want this conflict to end so that I can go back to rebuild my life”, she said.
Ayok Madut Matiang, a cattle keeper representative at the forum, also celebrated the agreement.
“This agreement can save the farmers and cattle keepers. We come in to conflict with farmers during dry season while migrating to Wau State in search for pastures and water because our cattle destroy their crops and in turn they sometimes kill our cattle.”
Mr. Madiang added that pastoralists can now use sticks or spears to protect their cattle, reassured that they the government will bring back their cattle from potential raiders should an attack take place.
Dominica Dominic, another participant, said that the agreed compensation packages are encouraging her to resume her farming.
“I am now very happy. I could not harvest anything from my farm. Those cattle keepers drive their cattle through my farm and they destroy everything. I can now farm without any problem because if they destroy my crops, they will have to compensate me”, she said, adding that these rules apply also in cases when the owner of the cattle happens to be a government official.
The Marial Bai Agreement between pastoralists and farmers was brokered by the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherland’s Municipalities in the presence of government representatives of the three states of Wau, Gogrial and Tonj.