(Damongo) – The Center for Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (CECOTAPS) has on Wednesday the 27th of October 2021 organized stake holders engagement on the theme dubbed ” PROMOTING FULANI HERDER-SETTLED FARMER COLLABORATION IN WEST GONJA MUNICIPALITY”.
A project that received it’s funding from USAID OTI littorals Regional Initiative to pilot a six-month project activity aimed at promoting peaceful co-existance and economic collaboration between Fulani pastoralists and settled farmers in selected communities within the West Gonja Municipality in the Savannah Region of Ghana, with the objective of training men, women and youth from Fulani pastoralists and settled farmers on inter-ethnic mediation and also to pilot multi-ethnic village savings and loan associations in five high-risk communities of the Savannah Region.
The project has directly engaged 300 men, women and youth drawn from both Fulani pastoralists and farmers sides in dialogue to promote cross-line communication, empathy as well as soliciting community ideas to resolve the tension between the two conflicting parties.
A subset of the dialogue participants was also trained on traditional conflict mediation techniques to enable them to address the day -to- day conflicts in their communities.
The project has also built relationship and as well demonstrated the value of the economic collaboration between the two groups through the introduction of the village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) system.
The programs Director Mr John Balankoo Sumbo in his presentation took participants through the thematic areas of the project. He said the project is deem necessary due to the long-standing prejudice and land competition between Farmers and Fulani pastoralists in the Savannah Region which is causing conflicts and distabilizing communities and that there are three underlying problems driving increasing frequency and intensity of these conflicts which is identified to include social exclusion, lack of trust in justice system and the increasing pressure on lands.
According to him if Fulani pastoralists and farmers engage in facilitated dialogue, have increased grass- root capacity to mediate conflicts and see tangible benefits of cooperative land use then land conflict and prejudice will be reduced, therefore conflict between Farmers and Fulani pastoralists which could provide window of opportunities for exploitation by VEOs will be reduced.
He then identified the first five communities in the west Gonja Municipality where this project is piloted for a period of six months starting from may, 2021 are Busunu, Sori no.1, Sori no.2 Nabori and Settlement. ” These communities were selected due to the high population of fulani pastoralists and the occurrance of conflict between Farmers and Fulani pastoralists”. He added.
However, more funding has been secured for the extension ( phase 2) of the project to some other five communities namely, Achuboyor, Langatere, Kedendelpa, Sumpini and Tailorpe all in the Busunu zone for a period of 12 months.
Fr Lazarus Annyereh in his closing remarks again remained listeners on the major fallout from dialogue which discovered that farmers were living relatively peacefully with the old settled Fulani within their communities. He added that both parties believed that dialogues were the best approach to addressing the challenges affecting them. But their main concern were with the trans-human Fulani.
Rev. Fr Clement bemoaned the participants to eschew their differences and tolerate each other for a peaceful co-existance in the Savannah Region and beyond.
He said intolerance if not well handled create internal conflicts among the people and thereby exposing the country to terrorist attack which will not go well with the country.
Sumaila Hafiz Kamara