This report provides four policy recommendations for international policy makers and implementing organisations working in Burkina Faso and the Greater Sahel more widely. These suggestions are driven by the belief that pastoralism itself can be the first line of defence against violent extremism, but that in order to be successful there has to be a much great effort to ensure the social rights of pastoralists and Fulani populations. Pastoralist-related conflicts find their roots – according to pastoralists themselves – in unequal access to pastoral resources, government policies and biased local governance systems that have been supported by NGOs and private sector programming.
The key to future engagement is to ensure that a new, more inclusive and conflict-sensitive mindset underpins programming. The basis for such thinking is to recognise that all resource users should be part and parcel of programming and local governance to ensure the peaceful co-existence of competing resource users, and the need for the further development of the pastoralist economy as the basis for a more stable security situation.
Based on this core insight, this report proposes four policy recommendations:
There is a growing realization that pastoralism can be the first line of defence against violent extremism. However, for this to be effective, a substantial effort needs to be made to improve the representation of pastoralists in (local) governance.
Our research finds that pastoralists and Fulani communities are largely excluded from political decision-making processes and are under-represented at both the national and local level. A specific reason why better representation is needed is that pastoralism needs a degree of flexible resource management systems, communal land management and non-exclusive entitlement to water resources. It is only through direct contact between resource users that mutually acceptable accommodations can be constructed.
What this means is that there is a need to correct the structural inequality that forms an important driver of conflict escalation. Therefore, efforts to ensure an inclusive approach to development have to recognise that pastoralists are a particularly vulnerable group that requires specific attention. It is important to ensure that local representation involves actual resource users rather than urban (Fulani) elites – who do not necessarily represent the interest of the larger group of impoverished rural pastoralists. There are three specific ways in which this can be done:
This report finds that challenges to pastoralist livelihoods are driven by a structural change to economic methods of production. Moreover, it shows that pastoralists have been able to find sustainable ways to adapt to these new economic realities. While the market is growing in size, pastoralists do not profit from this. The policy challenge is to develop new thinking as to how pastoral livelihoods can be sustained and combined with the new economic realities.
To this end, the first thing is to realize that agricultural programmes are part of the ‘problem’. Many policy interventions are targeted at the intensification of cattle production in an attempt to satisfy the demand for meat in urban areas. But the problem is that such policies have a technocratic approach as their basis (e.g. technical solutions to increase production) while insufficiently considering the political and economic consequences for the livelihood of small pastoralist communities. Therefore, interventions that focus on increased production alone are not the solution. We suggest four concrete initiatives to help pastoralists to adapt to changing economic realities
It is crucial to base interventions on a profound understanding of the way access to natural resources is negotiated between multiple users. However, one of the findings of this report is that investment in development and resilience initiatives for certain groups has overlooked more structural reasons for underlying existing tensions and has thus undercut the resilience of other resources users.
Both pastoral and agricultural policy-making have been functioning in separate spheres, whereby the effects of policies focusing on increasing pastoral productivity on a status quo in many communities where farmers and pastoralists share resources are often not considered, and policies that have focused on strengthening farming livelihoods have paid little attention to pastoral dynamics within the targeted landscapes. For example, an increase in local livestock ownership has changed the prevalent political economic settlement in certain areas as communities become caught between two stools: increasing cultivated land and increasing livestock.
A third recommendation is therefore that more integrated approaches are needed – even in the face of high levels of insecurity and violence. Rather than supporting either farmers or pastoralists, projects focusing on development and resilience should seek to focus on the idea of multiple resource users within targeted landscapes.
Traditional mediation arrangements were historically successful in resolving local conflicts in Burkina Faso. However, the weakening and politicization of local and regional leadership has hampered the ability to mediate in a conflict. Instead, the local leadership have become part of the problem as conflict resolution mechanisms have become biased. Real efforts should be made to enhance local trust and confidence in the institutions engaged in the process of conflict mediation.
Conflict mediation should include national and local authorities, as well as the parties to a conflict, and be supported by independent mediators. An impartial justice system should be in place that combats impunity for crimes, in particular against pastoralist communities, to stop the vicious cycle of revenge and reprisal killings when different groups turn to more violent means when they feel that justice has not been served. Four specific mechanism can be considered: