Wednesday 12 December 2018
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South Sudan: Pastoralists in Malual-Muok commit to honouring cattle migration agreement

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan Country: South Sudan
MANYANG MAYOM Meeting in Tonj, cattle keepers in South Sudan’s Malual-Muok have renewed their commitment to respect the terms of a cattle migration agreement with farming communities in neighbouring Wau. The agreement signed at a conference in Marial-Bai in 2016 spells out terms and conditions for the pastoralists to graze their animals during the migration season in January. Tonj County commissioner Severino Philip Bazia stressed the need for continued cooperation at a sensitization forum on the peace agreement organised by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). “Our cows, our farms are resources in South Sudan and we must respect them. Secondly, cows from the states should migrate to Wau every month of January, every year. All, in the agreement, granted the rights of farmers and pastoralists [to graze freely],” Philip Bazia said. During the forum, the UNMISS Civil Affairs Division distributed copies of the revitalised peace agreement to the 200 participants. “The forum is to remind stakeholders of the agreement, and to make a full commitment to respecting peace,” the Mission’s civil affairs officer Joseph Riwongole Ngoriakou said. The pastoralists from Tonj and Wanhalel counties of the Tonj area are expected to migrate to Wau at the onset of the dry season. The objective of the campaign forum was to disseminate and create awareness to the pastoralist communities about the Marial Bai Agreement for Peaceful Migration, ahead of the migration. Mou Atak Mou, a cattle keeper from Malual-Muok appreciated UNMISS’ role in disseminating the copies of the Marial-Bai Agreement on cattle migration. “I am very happy seeing UNMISS taking serious steps to invite us to remind ourselves about this agreement,” he said. “I will respect this agreement,” he added, attracting a huge round of applause from all the participants, who included community leaders and local youth. This year, the awareness forum has been held earlier than is customary because the authorities and the communities have reported minimal rainfall and lack of water in the two counties of Tonj and Wanhalel. The cattle camp leaders in Tonj and Wanhalel counties will be driving their cattle anytime from now to Kwajena and Alur counties of Wau, meaning that the 2018/2019 cattle migration would most likely come earlier than January, as it has been the case in the past. The Alur communities are predominantly farmers and there has been constant fear during past migrations that the movement of large herds of cattle to the Alur land would lead to conflict because it is suspected that pastoralists might drive their cattle to the host people’s farms, sparking conflict. Alur and Kwajena counties in Wau host huge tracks of swamps that act as both pasture and watering points in the dry season, hence it is a lifeline for the pastoralist communities. The two forums were attended by the county commissioners of Tonj and Wanhalel, county executives, paramount chiefs, elders, women and the cattle camp leaders. At the end of the forums, the pastoralist communities of Tonj and Wanhale counties said they had a better understanding of the Marial Bai Agreement. They also said they were aware of the pre-migration procedure and the need to work with both the authorities of the area that they will be migrating into. The cattle camp leaders, women and the chiefs vowed to go and preach peace in their respective areas and villages, for their people to coexist peacefully with their neighbours. However, the communities raised concerns that the Dinka community of the Gok area were not included in the Marial Bai Agreement. They therefore requested UNMISS to facilitate a conference to formulate a migration agreement with Gok pastoralists and authorities as well.

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