By Guest Blogger
Soaring conflict between herders,farmers and mixed farmers in South Sudan is turning deadlier than 5 years war. To stop the carnage and bloodshed, the government should improve security,end impunity for assailants, and hasten livestock sector reform.
*WHAT’S TRENDING*? Feud between South Sudanese mixed-farmers has escalated in recent weeks, killing hundreds (100s) of people since February 2020. The conflict has evolved from extemporaneous reactions to provocations and now to incurable planned attacks, particularly in Jonglei, Lake’s , Warrap and Upper Nile states.
*WHAT CAUSED IT*? Four factors have magnified this decades-long conflict arising from environmental mortification in the far South East and encroachment upon grazing grounds in the Savanna Belt and cultural desolation, militia attacks one another on the assumption of cattle raiding; the poor government response to distress calls and failure to punish past perpetrators and new laws banning open grazingland in various states such as Jonglei and Warrap has amplified the situation.
*WHY IT’S A CONCERN*? The conflict has become South Sudanese weighty security challenge, now claiming far more lives than the 2013-2018 civil war. It has displaced hundreds of thousands and honed ethnic, regional and religious polarisation. It threatens to become even deadlier and could affect the current peace process and upcoming elections and undermine national stability.
*WHAT MUST BE DONE*?
1.The government should better protect both mixed-farmers across the divide, prosecute attackers and carry out National Livestock Transformation Plan,this can provide a platform for investment among the farmers.
2. State governments should roll out open grazing bans in phases to avert aggression that might arise from the fields.There should be a policing policy whereby different cattle camps are manned by State police.
3. Communal leaders should curb inflammatory rhetoric and encourage compromise by talking to their youths not to attack others.
4. International partners such as FAO should advocate for accountability and support livestock sector reform.
5. End impunity,the government should always order for investigation of all recent major incidents of violence by expediting the trials of individuals or organisations found to have participated, sponsored or been complicit in violence.
6. Freeze enforcement of and reform state anti-grazing legislation: Jonglei state government should freeze and amend objectionable provisions therein. It should also help herders become ranchers, including by developing pilot or demonstration ranches, and conducting education programs for herders uneasy about making the transition.
7. Encouragement of herder-farmer dialogues by supporting local peace initiatives: Central and state governments should foster dialogue between herders and farmers, by strengthening mechanisms already existing at state and local levels, and particularly by supporting peace initiatives at the local level.
For their part, herder leaders, many of whom recognise that pastoralists will have to move, even if gradually, toward ranching, should exercise restraint. They should challenge legislation they dislike in court; urge members, in the meantime, to abide by laws and court decisions and encourage herders to take opportunities to move from open grazing to ranching. All communal leaders, religious, regional and ethnic should denounce violence.
The government must work within it framework to make sure cattle raiding and many other communal conflicts are STOP.