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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05NDJAMENA308
2005-03-01 14:48:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Ndjamena
Cable title:  

CATTLE, CAMELS, ELEPHANTS, AND REFUGEES: SKETCHES

Tags:   EAGR  EAID  ECON  PGOV  PHUM  PREL  SENV  CD  SU 
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INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
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						UNCLAS  NDJAMENA 000308 

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

STATE PASS USAID
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICAN WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID ECON PGOV PHUM PREL SENV CD SU
SUBJECT: CATTLE, CAMELS, ELEPHANTS, AND REFUGEES: SKETCHES
OF THE STRUGGLE FOR LAND IN SOUTHERN CHAD

-------
Summary
-------



1. (U) Pressures on the land are multiplying in southern
Chad. Cattle and camel herds are expanding as nomads migrate
further south and stay longer. Clashes with local farmers
are breaking out as livestock trample crops and drain water
reserves. Refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR)
are finding a congenial home, but are also bumping up against
resource constraints. The animals in Central Africa's last
large wildlife stronghold are preyed upon by poachers. Local
authorities are scrambling to manage the tensions brought on
by this competition for cropland, pasture, and water.
Notwithstanding their efforts, environmental pressures are
contributing to a potentially volatile mix. This series of
sketches from the Ambassador's recent visit to the region
illustrates some of the deep-set strains facing Chad and
other similarly fragile states. End Summary.



2. (U) The land becomes greener on the drive from N'Djamena
into southern Chad, but competition for its riches is no less
fierce. Farmers, herders, wildlife, and now even refugees
and returning Chadians are crowding in on each other in a
struggle for access to its soil and water. Previous
reporting has focused on how the ExxonMobil-led consortium is
working to benefit or at least avoid disrupting livelihoods
in the villages near the oil wells scattered through the area
south of Doba. The Ambassador's recent trip to Moundou,
Koumra, Sarh, Zakouma, Am Timan, and Mongo over February 8-15
showed the many other ways the inhabitants of this
impoverished region are straining to eke a living from the
land.



--------------------------


Cattle and Camels


--------------------------





3. (U) Almost everywhere in southern Chad herds of cattle
can be seen clustered around water holes or sauntering
through the countryside. Further to the east in the Salamat
region camels begin to appear grazing among the scrub trees
or in long processions beside the road. Asked the biggest
issue they face, local officials consistently cite the
challenge of managing tensions between the sedentary farmers
and the nomadic herders. Only the related problem of water
shortfalls is mentioned as frequently.



4. (U) For centuries during the dry season between
September and June, herders have led their cattle in massive
seasonal migrations to the wetter lands in southern Chad.
But as pastures in the northern and central regions of the
country dry up, more and more are moving further south and
staying longer. They are coming with larger herds. Some
settle in a particular vicinity and become "sedentary
nomads." Farmers too are increasing the number of their

livestock. Even in the more sparsely settled regions toward
the East, Chadians refugees returning from Sudan and the CAR
need more space for their herds or farms. The result
everywhere is increasingly serious clashes when cattle
trample fields and deplete water supplies.



5. (U) Officials in Guera, a province where for generations
livestock have passed on the way south, say local farmers and
herders have learned over the years to deal with this annual
trek. The two groups can usually work things out on their
own, they assured us. The farmers in Logone Occidental,
Moundoul, and Moyen Chari further south have not had to learn
these coping strategies until now. Local officials now are
regularly called in to mediate conflicts. They talk of
public relations campaigns to encourage both sides to be


respectful. They have tried to stake out corridors where
livestock can pass without damaging farmland. They have
sought to arrange for herders to compensate farmers for
damaged crops. In Sarh, they talk wistfully of reopening the
shuttered slaughterhouse and tannery. At least that way,
they say, the local residents could derive some commercial
benefit from the rising numbers of livestock in the area.



--------------------------


Refugees on the Southern Border


--------------------------





6. (SBU) Compared to the desolate vistas surrounding the
camps for the Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad, Yaroungou
near the CAR border looks like a summer camp for American
school kids. Square-sided tents and covered pavilions under
shade trees provide shelter for its nearly 16,000 residents.
They have the benefit of a clinic, a thriving market, a
soccer field, and a primary school big enough for 2000
children. But resource constraints are biting into
livelihoods even here. The well water stored in black vinyl
sacks has to be rationed. One reason for the shortfall is
because some villagers are using potable water for making
bricks to build permanent huts.



7. (SBU) The World Food Program (WFP) is supplying only a
small fraction of the food needs of the refugees. To make up
the difference, the residents are growing sorghum, peanuts,
and corn on plots set aside for their use by local
authorities. Unfortunately three quarters of the 2004 crop
was wiped out by stray cattle when nomads passed through.
Drought has slowed planting vegetable gardens to supply local
markets. The residents will have to return to their homes
across the border or achieve self-sufficiency soon. The WFP
is preparing plans to phase out its support by the end of the
year. But in contrast to complaints voiced by local
authorities over the continuing presence of the more than
200,000 refugees in eastern Chad, officials near the border
with the CAR told us the refugees there are welcome to stay.




--------------------------


Elephants


--------------------------





8. (U) The elephant carcass lay near the ashes of the brush
fire poachers had set. The ten-year old male still had its
tusks attached. The game warden, observing the bullet holes,
said the elephant had probably been shot late in the day,
managed to escape in the darkness, and finally collapsed.
The elephant was one of thousands that gather in Zakouma
National Park at this time of year. During the rainy season
they wander far into the surrounding countryside, sometimes
destroying fields and raising the ire of the farmers. But as
water holes dry up, they congregate here in herds whose
numbers rival those found anywhere else in Africa. In this
scarcely populated region, they have little to fear from
farmers or herders. But poachers are a deadly threat. They
earn fortunes smuggling ivory into Sudan. Two game wardens
had been ambushed and killed trying to stop them in January,
our guide told us. Giraffe and buffalo are also valuable
prey. Armed gangs ride in on horseback. They butcher the
animals in the fields and sell the meat clandestinely in
nearby markets.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





9. (SBU) Chad's civil wars happened too long ago for it to
be seen now as a failed or even failing state. But it is


most definitely a fragile state. Here, as in many other
countries in similar straits, the inhabitants are
overburdening the capacity of the land to support them.
Environmental strains are making it ever more difficult to
share what resources are available among them. Ethnic
divisions create further tensions. Weak governance
structures are barely able to keep them in check. Meanwhile,
Chad is being singed by the explosion across its eastern
border with Sudan, a conflict ignited in part by a similar
mix of pressures. Chad is not Sudan. Resentment against the
overbearing role of some members of President Deby's
Zaghawa/Bideyat clan continues to simmer. But crucially,
Chad's leadership has largely worked to dampen antagonisms
over land and ethnicity. For this and other reasons, we are
not predicting a similar flare-up here. But the ingredients
are there.



10. (U) Khartoum Minimize Considered
WALL


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