Creating Safe Routes and Sustaining Peace in North Darfur

March 22, 2020

In parts of Sudan, seasonal migration of livestock can trigger conflicts over land access and damage, and water and grazing. UNDP’s peacebuilding efforts help communities resolve disputes before they escalate.

Musa Awadallah Mohamed (59 years), is a peacebuilder and reconciliation advocate, living in Um Saiayla; a village 85 km north of North Darfur’s state capital El-Fashir.

His community is mostly farmers – but regularly sees pastoralists pass through, moving herds of livestock around the region, following seasonal grazing land to feed their cattle, goats and camels.

“The root cause of local conflicts occurs when livestock destroy farmers’ crops as they pass by their lands,” Musa explains, “this would be the trigger for dispute that in many cases might escalate to tribal war if not mitigated timely and effectively.”

Working to address this, the UNDP-managed Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund (DCPSF) provides knowledge and skills for communities across the region to address conflicts before they escalate into violence.

This can include training advocates in conflict resolution, establishing ‘Community Based Reconciliation Mechanisms’ (CBRMs) like peace committees (village-level groups using traditional techniques, like dialogue and negotiation, to address conflict), and data-driven conflict analysis.

For the village of Um Saiayla, it included all three. Vitally, by analysing the causes of conflict, DCPSF was able to map livestock/migratory routes and where they intersect with farms.

Using this data, the  Fund established clearly marked routes for pastoralists - following consultations with the community leaders - allowing for problem-free movement along accessible routes, through unclaimed land.  Then, Musa and other peacebuilders brought together local leaders, pastoralists and officials to ensure consensus.

Musa, as Vice President of the local peace committee, explains: “Pastoralists' seasonally move in June from the south to the north looking for pasture. When a large number of pastoralists and their livestock accumulate in one area, this leads to soil erosion and heavy resource usage.”

“Although the movement of the pastoralists is season-based, disputes continue long after the season is over. Nowadays, thanks to the demarked migratory route, combined with the established peace and reconciliation committees and mechanisms, there is 80% decrease in the number of incidents and clashes reported – those interventions have contributed significantly to sustaining peace.”

While this was his most significant success, as part of the local peace committee Musa is also involved in resolving smaller, more regular disputes.

 - “The moment we’ve got the information of a clash, we summon both parties for a hearing session. After the hearing, we establish a committee to assess the level of the damage that occurred, and then depending on the motive and the damage level, the shepherd may pay compensation in cash or in kind. Many situations are resolved amicably without having to resort to compensation.”

These solutions are typical of the 39 peacebuilders trained in Darfur in the first half of 2019, responsible together for creating eight migratory safe routes - 140km total.

While it has been six years since Musa attended his first training, focused on improving livelihoods, peacebuilding, negotiations, reconciliation, and conflict resolution, it is clear he retains his passion.

Now, he serves as a trainer – ensuring others in his country are equipped with the skills necessary to build peace, resolve conflicts, and build a safer Darfur.

Key facts:

  • In the first half of 2019 the 135 DCPSF supported Community Based Reconciliation Mechanisms (CBRMs) handled 1,380 cases in 2019. 1,147 (83%) were resolved, with another 121 (9%) referred to court.
  • 71% of community members reported they were satisfied with the CBRMs, and 64% reported a decrease in communal conflicts thanks to their presence.
  • DCPSF and its partners directly reached an estimated 26,586 through training, community initiatives, workshops and other events and programs – 54% were women.
  • 137 ‘tangible’ community assets (i.e. markets, community centres, classrooms) were repaired or created in 2019 to support community stability.

The work of the Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund is made possible by generous contributions from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to the Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund. Operating since 2007, in the last two years the Fund has provided USD$16.2 million, and assisted 133,981 people to rebuild and strengthen their communities, recovery and futures, through time-honored methods of mediation, reconciliation, and peaceful settlement.