NIAMEY, NIGER – The communities of Niger’s Banibangou municipality (Tondikiwindi canton) signed a peace agreement ending a two-decade conflict that has killed more than 300 people, displaced many thousand and disrupted agro-pastoral activity.

Facilitated by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), the accord is the result of almost two years of mediation and is a first for the communities to reduce tensions fuelled by competition for natural resources and armed violence in the Tillabery region.

“This day will mark our history,” said Allassan Hadoum, mayor of Banibangou and a member of the Zarma community. “The tensions between our communities are very old. I am happy that we have come together to find peace and now live in harmony with our Fulani neighbours.”

Read the full text of the accord in French.

Since May 2021, HD has been advising the various leaders and representatives of the Fulani and Zarma communities at their own pace, helping them to gradually overcome the wounds of the past and together create a negotiated solution.

“The road to peace was long because trust between the communities was all the more fragile as they sought support and protection from different armed groups. As a result, the competition that existed between them over the sharing of natural resources had gradually turned into open conflict,” said  Abdelkader Sidibé, head of HD’s Sahel mission.

With the signing of the agreement, a monitoring committee of community representatives was set up to ensure its implementation, work on the return of thousands of displaced people and manage remaining disputes between the parties.

HD will support the committee in its tasks and will be available to neighbouring communities who may wish to engage in reconciliation.

“The involvement of all parties with an influence on the conflict was also necessary, including the armed actors, to secure inter-community reconciliation,” said Alexandre Liebeskind, HD’s regional director for French-speaking Africa. “The Ministry of the Interior and the High Authority for Peacebuilding have also invested in the search for peace and we thank them for supporting the mediation process.”

Over the years, the decrease in arable and grazing land due to climate change and demographic pressure, coupled with the settlement of pastoralists in the 1970s, has led to increased competition for natural resources between communities.

At the same time, the Tillabery region has suffered from conflict between non-state armed actors and Nigerian armed forces and worsening public insecurity due to thefts, looting of livestock, house and granary fires and attacks on schools and health centres. In 2022, the Tillabery region had more than 120,000 displaced people.

HD’s mediation was part of its mandate to support national efforts to stabilise Niger, including the Ministry of the Interior and the High Authority for Peacebuilding.

HD has been active in the border region of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger since 2018 to help prevent and resolve community conflicts that fuel regional instability and to enable communities to pull away from conflicts between the region’s states and armed groups. This work is carried out with the financial support of Canada.

In Africa, the Middle East, Eurasia, Asia and Latin America, HD is the leading international private diplomacy organisation working to prevent and resolve armed conflict through dialogue and mediation.