A Zaria based think-tank, Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training (CEDDERT) has called on the Federal Government to consider a national policy to settle nomads through the restoration of cattle routes and grazing reserves.
This is contained in a report of a study conducted on the economic impact of rural banditry on Dansadau and Birnin Gwari communities in Zamfara and Kaduna States respectively.
Presenting the report to the public in Zaria, Kaduna State recently, the Director of the Centre, Prof. Massoud Omar, said that grazing reserves and ranches have proved to be a sustainable solution to herdsmen/ farmers clashes across developed and developing countries of the world.
â€œFrom the study of two conflict areas; namely, Dansadau in Maru Local Government of Zamfara State and Birnin Gwari communities in Kaduna State, it is our considered opinion that a policy to restore and demarcate cattle path and grazing reserves.â€
The report which showed percentage loss in livestock/grain output, jobs and farm holdings, during the conflict in the two communities, noted that over 90 per cent of pastoralists have deserted the areas, with between 75 and 77 per cent drop in agricultural output during the conflict.
Omar said the study found that prior to the conflict, over 500 cattle were brought to Dansadau market; on market days but since the conflict, none is being brought to the market. He said the situation was the same for Birnin Gwari market.
The report lamented the absence of banking activities in Dansadau and Birnin Gwari areas in spite of heavy commercial transactions worth hundreds of millions of naira that go on weekly, a situation which attracts armed robbers because of the huge amount of money that is in circulation.
â€œSimilarly, there is currently no banking services in Birnin Gwari after the branches of Eco Bank and First Bank were attacked by bandits. This situation itself attracted armed robbers due to the huge amounts of money in circulation,â€ the report said.
But CEDDERT called on government through the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to take the lead in finding sustainable solutions and intensify efforts in economic recovery in the areas.
It called on state governments to be proactive in taking decisions which have implications for security, in terms of land allocation, grazing areas, etc.
The report said more physical and social infrastructure, including roads, tele-communications, schools, health and banking services need to be provided to the communities in the two conflict areas as part of permanent peace building initiatives.
While calling on government to resettle and rehabilitate all displaced persons affected by the conflict in the two areas, the report urged government to put in place permanent measures to forestall reoccurrence of the conflict.
â€œThere is a need for more dialogue and cooperation among communities,â€ the report said, emphasising the need for government to organise reconciliation initiatives as a way of bringing lasting peace and stability to the communities.