Friday 1 November 2019


A two-day stakeholders' consultative meeting on enhancing gender inclusive response to the farmer-herder conflict in West Africa was held at Sunlodge Hotel, Tesano, Ghana between the 30th and 31st of October 2019 under the auspices of the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP). I chaired the session on 'Current strategies and gaps in responding to the farmer-herder conflict in West Africa: An assessment of vulnerabilities and inclusivity'.

                                                   Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa @ the meeting

Often, when the farmer-herder crisis is discussed the gender dimension and the youth are excluded. The parley was to find ways of correcting this anomaly. A number of themes germane to the subject matter were discussed:

*Farmer-herder conflicts in West Africa: Dynamics & trends
*Gender dynamics in farmer-herder conflicts in West Africa
*Current strategies & gaps in responding to farmer-herder conflicts in West Africa
*A multi-stakeholder approach to policies, programmes and partnerships in addressing gender gaps in response mechanisms
*Operative procedures for the intervention in farmer-herder conflicts in Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana
*Action points and way forward

Group photo, front row L-R: Salamatu Kemokai (UN Women); Mrs. Lydia Sasu (ED, Development Action Association - DAA, Ghana); Emeka Eze (ED, WANEP); Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa (Gender/Conflict Transformation Expert); Danjuma Aku (ECOWAS); Agathe Kemealo Telou (UNOWAS); Dr. Nathaniel Danjuma (University of Ibadan); Queeneth Tawo (WANEP)

Some of the participants at the meeting are:

*Dr. Emeka Eze - ED, WANEP
*Mrs. Levinia Addae-Mensah - Deputy ED, WANEP
*Salamatu Kemokai - UN Women
*Agathe Kemealo Telou - UNOWAS
*Danjuma Aku - ECOWAS
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Gender/Conflict Transformation Expert & Member Forum on Farmer-Herder Relations in Nigeria (FFARN)
*Abdoulaye Guindo - Association pour la Promotion des Initiatives de Developpement Communautaire (APIDC), Mali
*Ifeanyi Okechukwu - WANEP Regional Coordinator, Early Warning
*Ms. Adizatou Cheick - Presidente de l'Association des Femmes Tassagth, Burkina Faso
*Nathaniel Awuapila - ED, CORAFID & Member FFARN
*Mme Loda Coulibaly - Reseau des jeunes Femmes des partis politiques et des organisations de la societe civile (REJEFPO), Mali
*Wuraola Solomon - CDD Nigeria
*Mrs. Lydia Sasu - ED, Development Action Association (DAA), Ghana
*Khadija Adido - Miyetti Allah Women Wing, Nigeria
*Laurencia Akorli - Director, Community Policing, Ghana Police Service
*Semefa Asimenu - National Peace Council, Ghana
*Albert Ouoba - APESS, Burkina Faso
*Agyanang Ernest - Agogo Youth Association, Ghana

        Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa in a relaxed mood @ the end of the first day of the meeting

At the end of exhaustive deliberations, the following recommendations were made:

*The attendees at the consultative meeting should form a sustainable forum for gender inclusive response to farmer-herder conflicts in West Africa.

*There should be gender disaggregation of data on all aspects of the farmer-herder crisis.

*Gender should be mainstreamed into responses to the farmer-herder conflict.

*The average African has a sentimental attachment to land, which is sometimes beyond the real value of the land. It is from land that water, fodder, etc which are useful to both farmers and herders are derived. But in some climes, women are not bequeathed land. Only men are entitled to same. Tradition and culture should be gender sensitive and dynamic. It could take a very long haul to get there, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step...

*There should be gender-sensitive conflict reporting in both the traditional and social media as regards the farmer-herder crisis.

*We should take cognisance of the fact that the farmer-herder crisis is a regional challenge which cuts across national boundaries. National Action Plans (NAPs) on the farmer-herder crisis at the national level should feed into Articles 17 & 18 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Transhumance, the gender dimensions of which should be painstakingly deciphered.

*NAPs on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions at the national level should prominently spotlight the gender dimensions of the crisis. For example, the first NAP for Nigeria did not mention the farmer-herder crisis at all, since it was not a major source of conflict then. However, the 2nd NAP mentions the farmer-herder crisis tangentially. We hope that the 3rd NAP would devote more content to the farmer-herder crisis with a view to mainstreaming gender, especially women into responses to the farmer-herder crisis.

*Early Warning as regards the farmer-herder crisis should always be matched by Early Response from government, especially at the state and local levels. Such response should be embarked upon with a gender lens.

*At every opportunity, we should counter negative and incorrect narratives about the farmer-herder crisis especially those that do not adequately capture the role of men and women. Women are not always victims in this crisis, they could also be perpetrators.

*Refugee and IDP camps on account of the farmer-herder crisis should be adequately protected so that women are not raped and/or indeed maimed/killed.

*A major response to the farmer-herder crisis is Mediation. Women Mediators should be involved in mediating disputes between farmers and herders. For example, the newly inaugurated Nigeria Women Mediators' Collaborative Network (NWMCI) should concern itself with mediating farmer-herder crises in addition to its already heavy schedule. We need to link formal and informal Mediators.

*There should be alliance between farmers and herders as regards response to the farmer-herder crisis. A relevant example here is the FFARN. Responses by both researchers and practitioners should embrace the gender dimension.

*The challenge of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as regards the farmer-herder crisis. In any evacuation on account of the farmer-herder crisis, women and men should be taken care of on account of need!

*We should note that there is often a delicate intersection between criminality, rural banditry, insurgency and farmer-herder crisis. Before we label any conflict, we should decipher the underlying causes with a view to protecting women and indeed men accordingly.

*We should engage National Peace Architecture of various West African countries on the gender dimensions of the farmer-herder conflict. This should feed into the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework.

*There should be gender sensitive conflict impact assessment of all responses to the farmer-herder crisis.

*There should be research on the phenomenon of female cattle rearers - they are exposed to the danger of rape or death by an unknown assailants.

*Futuristic trends: We do not expect that the crisis would last forever. Therefore, we need to start thinking and talking about 'transitional justice (TJ)' - TJ is used in circumstances where normal judicial and security institutions are incapable of handling the level of social disorder, in this case the farmer-herder crisis.

*Community Policing should always factor in the gender dimension as regards the farmer-herder crisis.

The above list of outcomes from the meeting is not exhaustive, but it makes the reader the gist of the meeting. The campaign for the inclusion of gender considerations in all responses to the farmer-herder crisis is an on-going one...

L-R: Mme Loda Coulibaly (Malian), Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa (Nigerian) & Salamatu Kemokai (Sierra-Leonean)

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