BOUNA : After deadly clashes, Ivorian farmers and herders try dialogue.

Gathered under the spreading  baobab tree in Danaoa town square, farmers and herders in a remote corner of Ivory Coast  are finally talking about a dispute that has poisoned relations and destroyed lives.

Nearly three years ago, the northeast region of Bouna plunged into violence between crop growers and nomadic cattle raisers from the Fulani community, leaving 32 people dead and prompting to  2,500 to flee their homes.

The scenario is tragically familiar in many parts of Africa, where sedentary farmers and herders share water and land   -and tensions at times of stress may swiftly spiral into ethnic violence.

THOUSANDS have died in clashes in Chad, the Central African Republic, Mali and Nigeria in recent years.

But in Bouna, the pilot project - part of a scheme to protect the cveted Comoe National Park - has nurtured hopes of a dialgue that will headoff future bloodshed.

''After what happened, I was frightened. Everyone was frightened,'' said Awa Quattara, who heads a women group of small-holders.

''I hope the plan will work. When everyone is in agreement, it's better for all of us.''

Supported by German sustainable development GIZ, village chiefs, farmers and cattle breeders are creating designated cattle routes to prevent herds from getting in the park and on to farming land.

GIZ is investing 1.2 million euros [$1.4 million] over four years to support communities around the park.

The forum in Danoa brought together kaulango, mostly landowners, and the Lobi, mostly tenants, as well as Fulani.

''Just getting people around a table and having a discussion is already an achievement,'' said Sanogo Issoufoa from GIZ.

''Everyone will benefit economically from sharing management of resources between community members. We hope to create a virtuous circle.'' [Agencies]

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on African countries, continues.


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