Conflict resolution through sustainable management of trees in Ghana

March 24, 2015

As part of the FMNR Ecological Restoration Project in Bawku West (Ghana), over 300 traditional leaders and farmers were trained on conflict management and resolution strategies to be applied to Natural Resources Management. The initial goal of training 100 community leaders had to be reviewed as a result of communities interest and requests to participate. The exercise equipped community members to deal with conflicts and to promote peaceful co-existence between farmers and herdsmen. Francis Gumah (Manager for the Garu-Tempane Area Development Programme, World Vision Ghana) explains the challenges he encountered and the lessons learnt from this experience.

FMNR has promoted peaceful co-existence between we the Fulani herdsmen around Akara and the people of the Akara area in Garu. Previously we (the herdsmen) had to travel long distances in search of fodder for our cattle, this caused daily disputes between us and farmers of this part of Garu as a result of our cattle destroying crops as we search for fodder. Humiliation was like our daily food as insults kept on pouring on us which sometimes led to a fight with the farmers. But now, we are glad to have abundance of folder at Akarateshie Natinga where we can easily move our cattle to graze without destroying crops from people’s farm and picking up quarrel with them.

Incomes from the sales of our cows have also increased tremendously as the presence of the fodder has help to increase the sizes of the animals we now take to the market to sell. All I can say to this person called World Vison is thank you and God bless you for touching the lives of my family and I indirectly with your project.

A testimony from Mr. Abu Ananga, a 57 year old Fulani herdsmen who was interviewed at Akarateshie Natinga FMNR field within Garu-Tempane Area Development Programme

What activities were involved in the conflict resolution and who was involved to make this success?

Community leaders and some selected FMNR Committee members were those solely involved in the training but as sensitive as conflict issues may be, the ADP captured conflict management and resolution as a module in all it farmer field schools and other community based capacity building exercises for the implementing communities to understand that disagreement are just to shape and influence our growth and not to divide us.

Were both Fulani and farmers included in the community leader training? How did they share the lessons learnt with others?

Some Fulani’s were involved but only at the farmer field schools and the ADP really appreciated the fact that, the responds from the community is always good once facilitators make them aware that disagreements are normal since they are different individuals, but it should not lead to conflict. Fulani’s normally shared the learnings with family and friends who were facing similar issues with farmers.

What tools were included in the conflict management training?

Tools used included some role plays that brought home the benefits of tolerance and peaceful co-existence and working together for common goals.

What obstacles were encountered?

The perception about the radical nature of Fulani’s was an obstacle for community members to allow them to benefit from the FMNR fields. Community members have not also involved the Fulani’s in working in the fields.

Anything else you want to share about the process or how it could be replicated?

Bringing people of various ethnic groups and interest together for dialogue on development initiative is a springboard to achieve many other development outcomes.  On this particular development, the Fulani’s are supporting in taking care of the animals of other community members. This initiative from the Fulani’s encouraged the community members to involve them fully in working and usage of the FMNR fields.

Francis Gumah is an employee of World Vision Ghana and the Garu Tempane ADP Manager. He has the passion to re-greening the minds of the young to sustaining the environment.