Efforts to ensure pastoralists and farmers live peacefully necessary

11Feb 2022
The Guardian
Efforts to ensure pastoralists and farmers live peacefully necessary

VARIOUS parts of our country have witnessed decades of sporadic squabbles and even full-blown bloody conflicts associated with land ownership and use and pitting farmers against pastoralists.

One district saw easily one of the worst such encounters in December 2000, this having left 38 farmers dead. The situation improved for some years but brawls resumed eight years later, leaving eight people dead and several houses burnt to ashes.

In January 2014, ten people were killed in another district – in a different region – when suspected pastoralists invaded villages in a forest reserve. Several homes belonging to farmers were set ablaze.

In all these cases, farmers normally point accusing fingers at local government officials for allegedly conniving with pastoralists apparently not ready to distinguish between pastureland and farmland.

However, pastoralists often argue that the government is yet to realise that their livelihood depends solely on the livestock – and hence need for unhindered access to pastureland and water points.

But both land tillers and cattle herders are entitled to equal protection by the state, with the contribution of the two groups to the national economy invaluable – and therefore necessary.

Feelings of hatred among communities can turn catastrophic if not properly addressed. That is why we need to do a lot more to end these conflicts because, if we don’t act accordingly, the nasty trend will be especially disastrous.

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