Building peace in rural Cameroon

Meet Tenyi Mbah Marcus from Ashong in North West Cameroon. He depends on his crops to earn a living and send his young children to school.


But Tenyi's livelihood was jeopardised when his neighbour’s cows started breaking through his fence and eating his crops.

The dispute that arose between Tenyi and his neighbour, Manou, is reflective of a wider conflict in rural Cameroon. Such conflict arises when crop farmers encroach into areas mapped out for cattle grazing, or when cattle break into farms and destroy crops. Unsurprisingly, this has led to many criminal acts, legal cases and a complete breakdown of community relations. The conflict is split along ethnic lines, as crop farmers and cattle herders typically belong to different ethnic groups.

To counter this conflict, United Purpose works in partnership with MBOSCUDA to bring together crop farmers and cattle herders to engage in constructive dialogue. Known as 'dialogue platforms', they are made up of women, men and young people - and they are comprised of an equal number of crop farmers and cattle herders.

“I was inspired to go and see if I could make friends [with my neighbour]. So then we made friends. Peace has been established.” - Tenyi, crop farmer

The people use these dialogue platforms to consider disputes, change negative attitudes and bring about peaceful solutions for both parties. They also promote the idea of alliance farming, where crop farmers can benefit from cow dung and grazers can access fallow pastures.

Tenyi and Manou decided to trial alliance farming with the support of the dialogue platform. After Tenyi’s growing season, an area of land used for crops is fenced off and Manou’s cattle use the enclosed land for grazing for six months. It only takes a month for the nutrients and minerals in the cattle urine and manure to fertilise the soil, making it much more productive for the coming season’s crops. Manou’s cattle benefit too, as shoots of new plants are highly nutritious for the cattle.

For both Tenyi and Manou, the practice is "win-win".