Conflicts between farmers and herders in north-western Mali

Conflicts between farmers and herders in north-western Mali

Conflict over natural resources in Mali risks serious escalation

This report provides insight into the local management of conflict over natural resources between herders and farmers in north-western Mali. The study finds that social, economic and environmental change within the region has led to growing pressure on natural resources and a marked deterioration in relations between farmers and herders. The paper warns that because this conflict is based on ethnicity, there is potential for serious escalation.

The paper discusses the following:

  • environmental and livelihood characteristics in north-western Mali
  • rules governing access to and use of natural resources
  • conflicts within and between communities
  • conflict management

The paper recommends a number of measure that can be taken to improve natural resource management and conflict management in the area:

  • clearly defined areas should be designated for pastoral and agricultural use, taking account of inter-and intra-annual variations in the areas where natural resources are found
  • compliance with all the rules should be monitored, and fields and livestock watched over during the rainy season, with the backing of committees representing all sedentary groups
  • local conflict resolution mechanisms should be reinforced by involving all the protagonists in the damage assessment and subsequent negotiations while also involving mediators who are respected by all parties
  • identifying and promoting other forms of income could contribute to better management of the production imbalances characteristic of the region, and reduce competition between livestock owners over access to grazing and water.
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