To prevent clashes that often occur between herdsmen, trans-border authorities and even farmers, the West African regional bloc; ECOWAS has ordered herdsmen in the region to obtain the bloc’s International Transhumance Certificate (ITC) whenever they intend to embark on grazing movements.
The bloc’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tchambakou Ayassor, said this has become necessary to allow officials easy identification of animals moving from one country to the other, including their grazing route and destinations.
Aside from being in possession of the ITC, farmers in the region and stakeholders in the transhumance sub-sector were also enjoined to restrain from violence at all costs but to use the available judiciary machinery in dealing with conflicts that might arise from their trade practices.
Similar concerns were earlier expressed by the ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel de Souza while giving his report at the First Ordinary Session of the 4th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament in May, last year.
Mr. Souza said, the growing number of incidents linked to transhumance in several Member States, including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria had led to the death of thousands of people and may constitute a new threat to regional security, given the increased number of clashes between farmers and nomadic cattle breeders.
Transhumance in the ECOWAS region is an essential activity for safeguarding and increasing agricultural production and livelihoods as an integral part of the region’s agriculture, food security and poverty reduction policy.
It has the potential of sustaining Sahelian herds, contributing to regional integration, as well as the rich supply of livestock products to the ever growing urban centres and the coastal areas.
But despite these benefits, the transhumance livestock production system has challenges of trans boundary animal diseases, socio-political upheavals, and in some instances environmental degradation where there is a lack of appropriate regulation.
On 5th May, 1998, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government adopted a policy for Member States on transhumance in accordance with Article 25 of its Revised Treaty relating to the cooperation between Member States, to ensure agricultural development, achieve food security, enhance the environment for livestock breeding in Member States and to formulate, for that purpose, a harmonious regulation on transhumance within the Community.
Decision A/DEC.5/10/98 and Regulation C/Reg.3/01/03 has led to the emergence of three ECOWAS Transhumance zones known as the Western, Central and Eastern corridors.
The Western Corridor stretches along the coastal cities including Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mauritania while the Central Corridor runs through Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo and the Eastern corridor comprises Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Nigeria.
Going by the provisions of the decision, Member States are meant to provide surveillance along the corridors using their institutions. ECOWAS on its part will support them with surveillance technologies where possible.
by Amadou Jallow