Fourth Agar Annual Migration Conference extends to Belle community

After three successful internal annual cattle migration conferences among the Dinka Agar of Lakes State, the fourth annual forum this time extended to the Belle community. The 'institution' of the cattle migration conference is proving an important anchor point to the peace governance system in the area.

Seasonal cattle migration in greater Agar has been identified as a major driver of deadly intra and inter communal conflict among agro-pastoralists as they scramble for access to limited water and grazing. The lack of agreement between communities, the absence of mechanisms to address conflict in the grazing areas, the prevalence of weapons among cattle herders, and the lack of government oversight all contributed to problems faced during annual migration. The establishment in 2020 of an annual forum among the Dinka Agar, a Migration Conference, has been a positive step in reducing the violence that characterised the annual migration.

Since this first major cattle migration conference in 2020, Agar community leaders have come together with state authorities and agreed migration routes, as well as mechanisms to resolve violence in the toch or grasslands, such as banning weapons among cattle herders, and sending chiefs to hear and resolve disputes. These negotiated measures have ensured peaceful migration over the past four years, have demonstrated that these complex migrations can be managed peacefully through discussion and coordination.

From 4-5 December 2023, the Dinka Agar & Belle Internal Cattle Migration Conference took place in Rumbek, involving local government, Paramount chiefs, Gelweng youth, chiefs, MPs, and women representatives of Dinka Agar & Belle. They agreed and signed resolutions to guide seasonal cattle migration in the region, which include:

  • that Lakes State government continues to regulate cattle migration to upper and lower toc in 2024, and will outline the dates for migration in coordination with Gelweng Youth leaders (Bany Wuut);
  • that Dinka Agar pastoralists migrating to lower toc (Naam-cok) should migrate from 15 February 2024 when crops are harvested, except in an emergency situation forcing cattle and people to migrate before an agreed time-line;
  • that Gelweng youth leaders (Bany Wuut) and chiefs must obtain permit from the offices of the county authorities prior to cattle migration to Belle community’s grazing areas (Naam-cok);
  • that disputed areas should not be used by all sections until a durable solution is reached;
  • that respect for life and property to remain a priority within the Agar community and neighboring communities;
  • that both Dinka and Belle pastoralists be administered by the County Commissioner of the area where they have migrated to, in case of violations of the resolutions or disputes.

Peace Canal’s Greater Rumbek Area Coordinator describes how the Migration Conference ‘enables the community to find common ground that supports and promotes peaceful co-existence, to develop a common approach to sharing resources and protecting livelihoods across the ethnic divide as cattle migrate to grazing areas, to cattle camps and water points in the region.’

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