The Kuchi of Afghanistan are a culture of herders with a long history of migrating across Afghanistan's landscape in search of forage for their livestock. They are Afghanistan's primary extensive livestock producers and are the source of sheep and goats for intensive producers. Extensive livestock producers of Afghanistan have much in common with other herders around the world. Their communities face challenges of gaining access to public rangelands and acquiring or retaining land ownership. In combination with high illiteracy rates and low government representation they suffer from a vulnerability that can lead to conflicts over natural resources. Building capacity and empowering livestock producers to resolve conflicts peacefully is one way to assist them in meeting their challenges. Other benefits include gaining national identity, trust, and the respect of their fellow countrymen. The PEACE Project included conflict resolution as part of its agenda to increase extensive livestock production on Afghanistan's public rangelands. Understanding how livestock producers in Afghanistan were organized and how they traditionally solved issues was fundamental to developing a successful conflict resolution program. Earning trust with straight talk; making no promises that couldn't be delivered; remaining patient and continuing to listen despite setbacks; and, facilitating efforts for conflict resolution as opposed to directing them, were all critical to a successful outcome.
Project Activities Devoted to Facilitating Conflict Resolution
The PEACE Project has several actiivties specifically devoted to facilitating the resolution of conflicts for herders. First, we are working directly with IDK and their Provincial Directors. IDK has Provincial Directors in 31 Provinces and we have provided them with multiple trainings over the years with our partner Sanayee Development Organization. These trainings aim to impart skills that can be used to resolve many types of conflicts but we are hoping that Provincial Directors will use those skills to address serious land access issues. Provincial Kuchi Direcotrs hold monthly Shuras and the PEACE Prject supports these Shuras in 31 Provinces. During these Shuras Provincial Directors address conlficts, education and health issues related to Kuchi herders with District and Clan leaders.
The PEACE Project also facilitates the resolution of conflicts in 7 regions of Afghanistan by supporting the efforts of committed Kuchi and Village leaders. This activity, also known as the Peace Ambassador Program, trains and facilitates 75 leaders to address conflicts in their respective regions. Together with our partners, Sanayee Development Organization and one of the President's Advisors on Tribal Affairs, the program has resulted in the resolution of hundreds of land acess and tenure conflicts.
To read more about these activities use the links below.
- Conflict Resolution Handbook; Lessons and Recommendations
- Empowering Afghanistan's Extensive Livestock Producers
- Empowering Afghan Herders to Build Peace and Improve Livelihoods
- Peace Ambassadors: An Innovative Approach to Community-Level Conflict Resolution in Afghanistan
Recommendations for Drafting a Conflict Resolution Strategy
In 2008, the Afghanistan PEACE Project commissioned a report with the aim of providing the Independent Department of Kuchi (IDK) with direction to help resolve some of the ongoing conflicts. The executive summary from this report is presented below.
This report was produced by the Afghanistan PEACE Project, with the purpose of providing concrete recommendations to the IDK (Independent Department of Kuchi) for drafting a long-term conflict resolution strategy. The report was not commissioned by the IDK, but rather it is intended to serve as a guide to the IDK in developing a strategic plan.
The recommendations in this paper are specifically designed for developing a conflict resolution strategy. However, when drafting a conflict resolution strategy, the IDK is advised to take into consideration other pressing development needs of the Kuchi. Conflict resolution and development are closely interlinked, therefore developing a conflict resolution strategy as part of an overall development strategy is strongly advised.
There are serious intractable conflicts between Kuchi and sedentary communities in Afghanistan. The majority of these conflicts are over access to rangelands, and they are inter-ethnic and economically-driven in nature. These conflicts can be classified into two categories: conflicts over refusal of access rangelands, and in cases where access is granted, conflicts over access rights.
As the primary government department dealing with Kuchi issues, the IDK is responsible for assisting in the peaceful resolution of conflicts and facilitating assistance in a variety of developmental areas for Kuchi communities. The IDK does not have a formal strategy to address these needs. As cooperating partner, the Afghanistan PEACE Project can assist the IDK in prioritizing and planning for the development of a long-term conflict resolution strategy.