Transhumance Pastoralism and Mbororo Pastoralists in Climate-Water-Migration-Conflict Context of the Congo River Basin

Transhumance pastoralism (Table 1), a prevalent economic livestock production system in the tri-border zone of CAR (Central African Republic) and DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) – countries north of the Congo River Basin (CRB), and South Sudan, as practiced by Mbororo (Table 1) pastoralists in the DRC, is different. In that zone, Mbororo pastoralists/ herders migrate from Libya, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and CAR during the dry season (Figure 1) to trade (primarily, cattle) in large urban centers (like Buta, Duraba, Isiro, Kisangani, Bumba, Kinshasha, and Brazzaville) of the DRC¹. These herders arrive in the DRC through Bas-Uele province, particularly from the Lake Chad Basin. Some become sedentary (more than 20 years) and others return through another route like Ituri province and Uganda¹. The presence of Mbororo pastoralists in the CRB is related to the drying of the Lake Chad basin², the abundance of natural resources (land, pastures, and water), and economic opportunities in the CRB – the primary motivations for cross-border migration. Although the Sahelian pastoral and agro-pastoral systems contribute to more than 80% of animal product supply in the central African region³, transnational transhumance (Table 1) occurs within a landscape of rising violent conflict. This conflict amplifies pre-existing vulnerabilities related to the accessibility of natural resources in the region. The major stressor indicated by pastoralists and farmers is variability in rainfall pattern with a long dry season and a short rainy season. Mbororo pastoralists have altered their traditional routes due to the effects of changing climate (CC) and chosen a settled lifestyle where water is available to sustain their livelihoods. This new type of migration from the Lake Chad region into the CRB is often the source of conflicts and violence between pastoralists and local communities⁴. Other pre-existing and compounding issues include population growth, poor governance, undefined/unenforced land tenure rights, and unemployment⁵. These issues collectively represent an emerging regional concern that needs, at least, to be brought to the attention of relevant actors and that may require remedial action.

This policy brief summarizes key messages from the Project ‘Addressing Climate and Water Driven Migration and Conflict Interlinkages to Build Community Resilience in the Congo Basin’ (2019–2021) along with available sources⁵ , ⁶. The Project was funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC- Canada) and undertaken by the Congo Basin Water Resources Research Center (CRREBaC), based at the University of Kinshasa (DRC), in collaboration with UNU-INWEH (Canada), from 2019 to 2021. This Policy Brief is developed for the benefits of actors involved in but not limited to the following:

• Regional diplomacy and or continental governance institutions such as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), particularly the Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, and the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) including the regional center of AGRHYMET (a specialized agency of CILSS), United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Union.

• Federal Agencies of CRB riparian states dealing with agriculture, the environment, water resources, and human security. Examples of such agencies include the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, and Political Affairs, Peace and Security.

• International humanitarian, Security, and Peace, and UN agencies such as International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the food-assistance branch of the United Nations – The World Food Programme (WFP), and International Crisis Group (ICG).

• Associations involved in the promotion of the livestock and networks on pastoralism such as APESS (Association pour la promotion de l’Élevage au Sahel et en Savane) and Communication Network on Pastoralism (RECOPA).

Source: United Nations University

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