The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, is set to take major action following the recent violent nature of herdsmen.
The body is set to review regional regulations to curb herdsmen and farmers’ crisis in the region.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Sékou Sangare said this at an ongoin Regional Conference on Transhumance in Abuja on Tuesday.
Sangare said the review was pertinent to address frequent clashes between herders and farmers.
Director, Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Alain Sy Traore who spoke to newsmen on behalf of the commissioner, added that member states were also responsible for implementing regional regulations at the national level.
According to him, countries are expected to establish transhumance committees to address the issues of livestock management in the region.
He, however, said that only seven member states had established such committees.
“From the 15 member states, only seven have established the transhumance committees, that is a serious problem.
“All Sahel countries have done it because the issue of transhumance in that zone is more recurrent; countries like Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo, Benin have done it.
“Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and those countries not really tackling the issue are yet to set up such committees, this is now becoming more of a security issue, I am sure they will do so.
“We are growing in terms of population and we cannot practice transhumance activities like it was in the 1960s, it is the 21st century we have to change,” he said.
The commissioner said that ECOWAS was developing investment programmes to redefine the livestock value chain in West Africa and also working with development partners to invest in countries.
Also speaking, Dr Cyriaque Agnekethom, ECOWAS Director, Peacekeeping and Regional Security, reiterated the need to review regulations on small arms and light weapons.
“Today, herders, instead of using sticks to move their animals, use weapons and it is a serious concern for ECOWAS.
“One of the instruments that ECOWAS has put in place since 2006 is the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons which aims at regulating the possession of arms.
“Questions are being raised as to how herders access weapon with existing regulations.
“During the meeting, we will try to understand, is it the regulations that are not explicit enough, or member states are not putting appropriate measures to implement the provisions of the convention?”
Agnekethom further called on member states to set up their national commissions on small arms to coordinate countries’ efforts in the control of small arms and light weapons.
“One of the provisions is for member states to establish a National Commission on Small Arms to coordinate countries’ efforts in the control of small arms and light weapons.
“We know there are positive developments from Nigeria in that regard but in many of our member states, they are not functioning,’’ he added.
The ECOWAS meeting of Ministers of Security and Agriculture/Animal Resources on Transhumance Security is aimed at resolving the challenges posed by conflicts between farmers and herders in the region.
It has as its theme: “Transhumance Security: Working together for Regional Integration, Peace and Security.”