Sabina Appiah-Boateng is a Doctoral student at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, pursuing PhD Development Studies under the sponsorship of DAAD, SDG Graduate School – Performing Sustainability, Cultures and Development in West Africa. She is working on the research topic: Land-Use Conflicts and Psychosocial Wellbeing: A Study of Farmer-Herder Conflicts in Asante Akyem North District of Ghana.
Exiting Ghana’s land-use conflict Through cultures and democratic methodology
Culture and democracy are essential tools for the management of land-use conflicts. Land-use conflicts in Ghana have become pervasive in nature and calls on all stakeholders and practitioners to adequately understand the cultures of actors involved and employ a democratic approach in managing them. This conflict is on the rise as a result of ethnic differences, population growth, globalization of the economy, political exclusion, deprivation, social discrimination, and economic marginalization. Specifically, this is the case of Agogo, a vibrant farming community in Ghana. This farming community has experienced farmer-herder conflicts since the eighteenth century among diverse groups of herdsmen and indigene crop farmers where migrant-herdsmen compete with indigene-crop farmers over limited resources. This protracted farmer-herder conflict in Agogo has contributed to devastating effects on the conflict actors, other residents, and the nation as a whole. In an attempt to manage the conflict, the government of Ghana in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018 has employed the expulsion policy yet the conflict is on the rise. This paper explores the connections between culture, democracy, and conflict management of the land-use conflict between crop farmers and herders in Agogo, Ghana. The paper used a qualitative approach and purposively sampled actors to understand their cultures and to share their thoughts on the democratic management of the conflict in individual and group interviews. The study revealed that the use of western approaches such as the use of the expulsion policy and use of force to managing the land-use conflict between the farmers were not effective and in themselves also exacerbate the level of the conflict. The respondents revealed that the democratic approach would eliminate the concept of de-marginalization of one group, and shared that actors would come to see the humanity of one another, accept each other, and see the possibility of a constructive relationship. The study recommends an excellent balance between indigenous and western management styles using the hybrid theory of conflict management.