Ghana Agency expresses concern over Boko Haram’s threat to African pastoralist movements
Emmanuel Obeng, Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana, on Wednesday said this at a meeting of climate-vulnerable African nations in Addis Ababa.
He said because of the attacks by Boko Haram and other armed groups, herders in Africa’s Sahel, are abandoning traditional dry-season grazing grounds in Nigeria and converging on Ghana.
Obeng said the damage the migrants are causing in Ghana was becoming unbearable because they are driving conflict with farmers and worsening deforestation.
He said Ghana has received the largest share of the pastoralist herders avoiding Nigeria and other conflict-affected countries in the region.
“My country is carrying more burdens.
“As they come with their livestock, they burn the vegetation in Ghana to get fresh grass for their cattle.
“There have been many conflicts with our people over natural resources, including water and land,” he said.
Obeng said as a result of the influx of migrants, Ghana’s young farmers are now forced to move to urban areas seeking other opportunities for a living.
“The loss of trees also has resulted in land degradation and “had a lot of impact on climate change.
Obeng said the way to address the worsening pressures may be to set aside some land in Ghana for the use of migrants.
“We need to manage it by reserving certain areas for these pastoralists coming to Ghana.
He said closing borders and stopping movement of the nomads in West Africa is not an option.
According to him, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) allows the free movement of people from one member country to another.
Obeng stressed the need to persuade the nomads of the value of protecting trees, and given alternatives to use.
Assadek Cham, a Councillor at the National Council of Environment and Sustainable Development in Niger, said moving herds south in search of pasture in the dry season was an ancient practice in the Sahel.
He said under increasing pressure as cross-border Islamist militant groups including Boko Haram, make the annual journey increasingly perilous.
Cham said thousands of Niger’s Fulani nomads, for instance, normally migrate south with their cattle and camels along two key routes.
“They go to Ghana via Togo, Benin and Mali, and another to Nigeria.
“About 8,000 Tuareg pastoralists in Niger also traditionally use the Nigerian route and they have no choice but to travel yearly.
“They move because their environment is not good for them and their animals and what do you do if you have hundreds of cattle and have nothing to feed them.
“Besides managing their own animals, many pastoralists also herd south animals belonging to richer people and they move with moves with three to four thousand cattle,” he said.
Cham said as much as pastoralism was in itself a viable economic activity, there was also a need to create alternative livelihoods for women and men who have dropped out of pastoralism.
He said this would alleviate the growing population pressure on the land, as well as to increase the range of cash sources available to pastoralist families.
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