The International Crisis Group, an independent non profit organisation, on Tuesday called for a reform in the agricultural sector in West Africa and the Sahel to address insecurity.
Mr Nnamdi Obasi, the Senior Adviser of the group for Nigeria made the call in Abuja at the 2nd Abuja Dialogue with the theme “Migration and Inter-Community Conflicts in West Africa and the Sahel: Which endogenous solutions for security for all’’.
According to him, insecurity is fueled by major conflicts across the region, ranging from farmers/herders crisis to conflict between extremist groups among others.
“These crisis have escalated overtime due to competition over diminishing resources by various user groups ,climate change, change in trans human migration by pastoralists.
“But increasing availability of illicit arms have changed the dimension of the violence.
“More so, absence or weakness of the state in providing protection for communities and the exploitation of inter-community divides by extremist groups have also escalated the insecurity.
“The conflicts have killed many and rendered others homeless, therefore, undermining agriculture and rural livelihoods threatening food security,” he said.
Obasi added: “To curb this, we need to embark on developmental issues, our long method of agriculture whether livestock or crop farming, though the methods were good at a certain stage but they have to evolve with the way the society is evolving.
“So, we need agricultural reforms to make them less conflict prone as they are presently, there is need to reform agricultural practices in the region by overhauling both the pastoral and crop farming.’’
He said that security agencies needed to cooperate more closely and the military in the region also required comprehensive reform to tackle insecurity and disarmament.
“We have to deal with poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment because these are issues that are creating a large army of uneducated, discontented and alienated persons vulnerable to recruitment by criminal and armed groups,” he said.
Dr Emile Ouedraogo, Senior Peace and Security expert, African Centre for Strategic Studies from Burkina Faso, said that the insecurity in the region if not checked would lead to mass migration.
Ouedraogo said that the region was marked with multiple crises with compound issues adding that the increase in inter-community crises had led to humanitarian crises affecting almost every country in the region.
He called on countries in the region to begin to look inward to use endogenous solutions to achieve long lasting peace.
Also, Mr Ulrich Thum, Resident Representative, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), said that the organisation had been promoting the values of social democracy in Africa for over 40 years.
Thum said that the programme was part of the European Union Security for All project aimed at providing inclusive security and democratic governance through participation of Civil Society Organisations in Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon among others.
“It looks specifically at the cooperation and interaction of traditional security actors and civil society in the field of security because real security provision is not the exclusive responsibility of security agencies.
“It needs an inclusive approach, taking into account various stakeholders and the roles and needs of various actors because only if there is a good interplay between stakeholders can real human-centred security be provided.’’
The event was organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Co-financed by the European Union to offer solutions to current security challenges in West Africa and the Sahel.(NAN)
Edited by Abiemwense Moru/Ali Baba-Inuwa