Mapping environmental conflicts and cooperation



Conflict between Beni Halba and Gimir in Sudan

Type of conflict sub
Intensity 3
Northern Africa
Time 1944 ‐ 2014
Countries Sudan
Resources Agricultural / Pastoral Land
Conflict Summary Desertification, deforestation and environmental degradation have exacerbated resource conflicts between the Beni Halba and Gimir communities. Clashes over...
Conflict between Beni Halba and Gimir in Sudan
Desertification, deforestation and environmental degradation have exacerbated resource conflicts between the Beni Halba and Gimir communities. Clashes over land between both communities in 2013 killed more than 160 people.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

Land has become an increasingly scarce resource in Western Sudan due to mounting desertification and environmental degradation.

Intermediary Mechanisms

Competition over arable and grazing land is one of the major factors leading to clashes between Beni Halba and Gimir pastoralist communities in South Darfur.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

Fighting over contested land between the two communities in 2013 left more than 160 people dead.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversMore frequent/intense extreme weather events reduce available natural resources.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources reduces available resources and ecosystem services.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources leads to distributive conflicts between societal groups.An increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts.More Frequent / Intense Extreme Weather EventsGrowing scarcity of essential natural resources.Natural Resource ScarcityReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural ResourcesNon-violent or violent tensions and conflicts between different societal groups.Grievances between Societal Groups
Context Factors
  • Water-stressed Area
  • History of Conflict
  • Low Level of Economic Development
  • Political Marginalization
  • Weak Institutions
Conflict History

Beni Halba and Gimir are pastoralist communities with Arab identity inhabiting South Darfur. Disputes between the communities, primarily over land, have occurred in the past but could often be solved by ways of traditional mediation. In 2013, however, the two communities fought each other fiercely over contested land. The fighting started in early March and the two communities clashed several times throughout the year, leaving more than 160 people dead (UCDP, 2015). Armed forces, which had been sent to the area by the central government to create a buffer zone between the two communities, had retreated, thereby making the outbreak of violence possible. Sources reported that attacks by Beni Halba were supported by the “Central Reserve Forces”, also known as “Abu Tira”, a pro-government militia. After the clashes, both sides accused each other of breaking a recent peace treaty, of which several had been signed and broken in the years prior to the incident in 2013 (Radio Dabanga, 2013; CORI, 2013; UCDP, 2015).

Competition over scarce land
Land is an increasingly scarce resource in western Sudan due to a variety of factors such as desertification, deforestation and environmental degradation. Ensuing competition over arable and grazing land, in turn, is one of the major factors leading to (often violent) conflict between local communities. In the present case, the Gimir accused the Beni Halba of trying to oust them from areas they had lived on for centuries, while the latter claimed the area for themselves. The disputed land is of particular importance for both animal husbandry and the production of gum arabic (Pantuliano, 2007; UN News Centre, 2007; Reeves, 2013; der Standard, 2013).

The role of the Government of Sudan
In addition, representatives of the Gimir community accused the central government of supporting the Beni Halba, of which Sudan's Second Vice President at the time- al-Haj Adam Youssef - originates from. Sources reported that on several occasions, government security forces that were supposed to protect the Gimir either did not intervene during the attacks by Beni Halba or retreated shortly before the attacks started. Furthermore, it has been reported that border guards and Central Reserve Forces were involved in the attacks (CORI, 2013; UCDP, 2015).

Resolution Efforts

Numerous peace treaties have been signed between the two communities throughout their conflictual history. However, the truces were usually broken after a short period of time. In 2014, after a year of negotiations between the leaders of the two communities, a reconciliation agreement was signed on March 17, in Nyala, South Darfur, in the presence of Sudan’s second Vice-President, Hassabu Mohamed Abdalrahman. Both delegations confirmed their full commitment to implement the terms of the agreement (Radio Dabanga, 2014). Since then no more violent clashes have been reported.

Intensities & Influences
conflict intensity scale
International / Geopolitical Intensity
Human Suffering

Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation Municipal
Mass Displacement Less than 100.000 and less than 10% of the country's population are displaced within the country.
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Agricultural / Pastoral Land
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence Violence has ceded completely.
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future There is no increased capacity to address grievances in the future.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been partially addressed.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity Decrease in conflict intensity at least partially the result of conflict resolution strategies.
General opencollapse
Country Data in Comparison
ConflictNoData Created with Sketch.
Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties
Purely Environmental | Cultural   ♦   Occupational   ♦   Economic   ♦   Urban / Rural   ♦   National / International conflict   ♦   Sub-national political

Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Beni Halba community
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Gimir community
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Sudanese Government
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Central Reserve Forces
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
3 Treaty/agreement A reconciliation agreement was signed between the leaders of both communities in 2014.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Public good: No one can be excluded from use and the good is not depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Mixed: The abilities of parties to affect the environmental resource is mixed.
Broad conflict characterization Resource capture is not present.
Ecological Marginalization is present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse