The cows have destroyed my corn!

… this is how Dennis, a farmer from Wum, complaint last week to a herder.

The North West Region of Cameroon is also known as the “Grasslands”. This Grassland encouraged cattle farmers (Mbororo/Fulani/Haussa) to settle down in the area. Some of the herders are from other areas and enter the grasslands during transhumance. This leads to a lot of conflicts between the herders and crop farmers. Cattle enter farms and destroy corn, beans and other crops from the farmers. Herders need access to water and need to pass through certain areas to reach their resting points or the next grazing land.

One of the hotspots for farmer-grazer conflicts is Wum in Menchum Division. Last October we have trained people from Wum and other communities in “Peace work and conflict analysis” to work as Peace Volunteers (PVs).

Mr. Awah (crop farmer) complaining about the damage in his farm to Mr. Umaru (herder).

During the first follow-up visit we got a lot of encouraging and interesting information about the peace work in Wum.

After a challenging period of advocacy and lobbying done by the PVs, the Traditional Council adopted “Rules and Regulations” for the handling of conflicts.

Such document did not exist before. People in conflict used to lay their complaints in different places like police offices, the village councils, or different government delegations, some went straight to court. The financial implications of this approach were very high and solutions often not provided. Some of those conflicts escalated violently and resulted in injuries of persons, or damage of farms/animals.

The newly established “Rules and Regulations” were made public in all quarters of Wum. People with conflicts have to follow now a certain order to get resolution of their conflicts. For this reason seven new quarter councils were formed. If the quarter councils cannot solved the problem, it must be taken first to the village council before it can be taken to the traditional council. One important step in the new procedures is that the damage must be inspected at the site, before any further discussion can take place.

Surprisingly the new approach led to a drop down in the number of councilors. Achuo Patrick (PV) says: “Only the honest people remain now in the village and traditional councils. The new procedure is transparent for everybody, so that the opportunity to take bribe is heavily reduced.”

Huseini Adamu (PV) adds: “People have increased the number of “Farming Alliances”. Crop farmers allow cattle to eat the remains of e.g. corn in their farms, which is a valuable feed for cows. The farmers benefit from the cow droppings that are manure for the farms.”

The next idea of the PVs from Wum is to develop a drama to show how the new approach helps to reduce escalation of conflicts and to increase the livelihood of people.

We will keep you informed!

written by Maja Mueller

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About COMINSUD

Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD) is an organisation dedicated to sustainable development in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. COMINSUDs main office is located in Ntarinkon but she works throughout the North West Region to improve the lives and livelihoods of Cameroonians. Focusing on projects and programs of democracy, women's empowerment and good governance, COMINSUD aims to work with rural communities towards a better and more sustainable future.