Farmers versus Pastoralists: Contested Land Rights and Ethnic Conflicts in Dar Masalit, West Darfur State

No Thumbnail Available
Zahir Musa, AbdalKareem
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This study sheds light on the issue of land-based conflicts between farmers and pastoralists in Dar Masalit, West Darfur State. The general argument of this study could be stated as follow: there are specific factors, mostly at the grass-root level, that have triggered the conflict between sedentary farmers and nomadic pastoralists in Dar Masalit since the mid of 1990s and beyond. These factors are connected to the latest economic, environmental and political changes that have been witnessed in Darfur as well as Dar Masalit in the last three decades. However, it is important to indicate that the argument of this study also assumes that the root causes of this conflict are basically related to the role that is played by the Sudanese government at the macro level. Here, factors such as lack of development; coupled with the nature of the interference of the Sudanese central state in the customary land tenure system in Dar Masalit are considered to be the root causes of the conflict in this area. The study employed a ‘holistic approach’ to investigate its main questions. This approach comprises historical as well the descriptive methods. As to the means of data collection, observations, in-depth interviews and focused group discussions were the main tools used in this study. Besides, I consulted books, papers, documents, reports, internet websites, newspapers, relevant administrative reports and maps on the relevant issues. One of the major results emphasized by this study is that there is no equality between farmers and pastoralists to maintain the same rights to secure access of land for cultivation and pasture in Dar Masalit, especially in times of severe hardship. In this regards, customary land tenure system of Dar Masalit has enabled farmers (especially, the Masalit, the Fur and the Daju) to claim and enjoy acknowledged rights over tenure and usage in this area. Conversely, pastoralists have begun to raise the claim that they have the right to access the land in this area as long as it belongs to the Sudanese state. When it comes to the direct causes behind the conflicts at the grass-roots level, the study found that the recent huge influxes of human and livestock to Dar Masalit, together with the new changes in the subsistence economy of the farmers are the main causes of the conflicts in Dar Masalit. The study demonstrated that lack of development as well as the intervention of the central state in the local arena through some land legislations is the root causes of the conflicts in Dar Masalit. As to the issue of ethnicity, the study showed that ethnic or tribal diversities are not the causes behind the conflicts in this area, rather, land-based conflicts (together with other factors) have contributed to the creation of ethnic divisions, especially that based on tribalism
132 page
Farmers Versus Pastoralists,Contested Land Rights, Ethnic Conflicts,Dar Masalit, West Darfur State