The breakdown of mutual dependance
The recent violence in Manchok, when a village was attacked, was partly the result of a dispute between settled farmers and nomadic herders or pastoralists. During more peaceful times the two groups can live and work together, both groups benefiting from each other. The herders can leave their cattle to graze on a local farmer’s fields while the farmer benefits from the manure. But when there is a context of violence in the country these trusting relationships break down. In addition over the years there has been a lot of pressure on grazing land due to population growth and water sources for animals have been depleted. There is a need to explore a WIN-WIN strategy to maintain the vital mutual dependent relationship of settled farmers and herders.
Assistance from the British Council
Fantsuam has been given a grant from the British Council in Nigeria to implement a pilot grazing reserve. It has identified some farmland of its own that can be used for grazing and it plans to dig a water hole to feed into animal water troughs. The famers will also be provided with improved grass seed to be used on the grazing land. The grass seed can also be sown on other farmland as a cash crop and the herders will be able to buy it, once it has been harvested, as food for their animals in the dry season. The money from the British Council will be used to buy the grass seed, to fund the digging of the well and to meet the necessary costs of holding meetings with all the stakeholders.
Peacebuilders in the communities
At the first meeting of the leaders of both communities, they themselves suggested that women and young people should be included and consulted. As part of the project, non-violent conflict resolution skills be provided to women and youths so they will become peace builders in their respective communities for the future. If this pilot succeeds, it will be a blue print that can be replicated in other communities both in Nigeria and other countries.