The joint meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), ended yesterday in Abuja with a commitment to set up an observatory of mobile livestock system within ECOWAS and Sahel.
The high-level meeting, which was to discuss the establishment of a regional observatory on pastoralism, also had in attendance Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, National Boundary Commission and the Regional Animal Health Centre.
Others are ECOWAS Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the project financier, African Union Border Programme and German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
At the end of the three-day consultation, the body agreed to make the observatory of mobile livestock system an instrument of governance and decision-making tool in West Africa and Sahel. This, participants stated, will serve as framework for the provision of data and necessary information for improving mobile livestock system.
The Executive Secretary, CILSS, Dr. Paul Ouedraogo, decried lack of data on trans-humans. Noting that livestock contributes greatly to the Gross Domestic Products of sub-regional countries, he expressed the need to pay necessary attention to livestock economies.
“So, this meeting serves as a platform that aids gathering of data from several sources, analysing and distributing them to policy-makers,” he said.
Ouedraogo added that conflicts arising from violence from activities of trans-humans and their consequent rejection by African communities “are normal. So, we need to use dialogue and the regional development tools, such as ECOWAS and governments of countries, to address the issue.”
On people using movement of livestock to move arms across borders, he acknowledged that the situation is real, but that“ECOWAS and related bodies need to strategise on how to handle that.”
“… The most important recommendation is high-level political dialogue and dialogue between communities and other stakeholders,” he said.
The Chief Project Officer, GIZ, Bakary Sanou, recalled the deaths resulting from farmers/herders conflicts, and expressed interest in regional stabilisation.
Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, ECOWAS Commission, Traore Xy-Alen, noted that trans-humans was one of the first issues treated by ECOWAS, and that it was based on the body’s treaty regarding free movement of goods, persons and services.
According to him, one of the decisions reached in 1998 by ECOWAS heads of state and governments was that trans-humans could be a practice on regional movement.
“Another regulatory framework came up and explained what each party should be doing in establishing a national trans-humans committee to work within each country, and for ECOWAS to bring all the template for regional coordination…”
Traore maintained that each country has the prerogative and sovereignty to organise and develop the mechanism that is best for them, “because all countries do not have equal land area, population and concentration of people…”