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Factbook

Mapping environmental conflicts and cooperation

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Conflict between the Awlad Zeid and Zaghawa in Sudan

Type of conflict sub
Intensity 2
Region
Northern Africa
Time 1980 ‐ ongoing
Countries Sudan
Resources Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Conflict Summary Since the early 1980s, conflicts over land and water between Awlad Zeid and Zaghawa pastoralists have become more violent due to a variety of reasons...
Conflict between the Awlad Zeid and Zaghawa in Sudan
Since the early 1980s, conflicts over land and water between Awlad Zeid and Zaghawa pastoralists have become more violent due to a variety of reasons including increased drought frequency and severity. In 2001, clashes between the two groups over the use of the Bir Taweel wells left more than 70 people dead.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

Water and grazing land have become an increasingly scarce resource in Sudan, partly due to increased drought frequency and severity.

Intermediary Mechanisms

The Arab Awlad Zeid and the African Zaghawa tribes have repeatedly clashed over access to scarce resources since the early 1980s. However, tensions between the groups escalated as ethnic divides were exploited by the Sudanese government as part of counter-insurgency strategies in Darfur.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

In May 2001, more than 70 people were killed in a dispute over the Bir Taweel wells in northern Darfur.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversMore frequent/intense extreme weather events lead to decreased water availability.Demographic changes increase pressures on available land resources.Freshwater becomes scarce as an essential resource. Land scarcity hampers agricultural production.State elites strategically use resource scarcity for political advantage/power.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources leads to distributive conflicts between societal groups.Use of resource, livelihood, and health pressures for political advantage/power increases tensions between groups.An increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts.More Frequent / Intense Extreme Weather EventsAn increase in the scarcity of clean water and/or an increased variability in water supply.Increased Water ScarcityChange in population density, age structure, or ethnic makeup.Demographic ChangeReduced availability of/ access to land.Increased Land ScarcityReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural ResourcesUse of resource, livelihood, and health pressures for political advantage/power.PoliticisationNon-violent or violent tensions and conflicts between different societal groups.Grievances between Societal Groups
Context Factors
  • Insecure Land Tenure
  • Water-stressed Area
  • History of Conflict
  • Low Level of Economic Development
  • Political Marginalization
  • Weak Institutions
Conflict History

The Awlad Zeid and Zaghawa have repeatedly clashed over water and land since the early 1980s. By the mid-1990s, relations between the two communities further deteriorated as ethnic divides were exploited by the Sudanese government as part of counter-insurgency strategies in Darfur. The tensions between the two groups escalated in May 2001, leaving more than 70 people dead in a dispute over the Bir Taweel wells in northern Darfur (UCDP, 2015). The implication of the Sudanese government in this event as a weapon supplier to the Awlad Zeid added to Zaghawa grievances and precipitated the formation of the rebel movement SLM/A (Sudan Liberation Movement/Army) (Brosché and Rothbart, 2013).

Water and grazing land have become an increasingly scarce resource in Sudan due to a variety of reasons such as increased drought frequency and severity, caused by climate change and an increased demand for cattle due to high population growth (Bromwich, 2008). This situation has led to frequent clashes between the Awlad Zeid and the Zaghawa since the 1980s. In 2001, the Zaghawa created four self-defence camps in response to continuous threats of violence from Awlad Zeid. The tensions between the groups climaxed in May 2001 when the Awlad Zeid staged an attack on the Zaghawa at the Bir Taweel wells (UCDP, 2015).

The implication of the Sudanese government has further fuelled local conflict along ethnic lines by favouring groups with an “Arab” identity, such as the Awlad Zeid, over those with an “African” identity, such as the Zaghawa. In its need for allies against nascent rebel movements such as the SLM/A, the central government in Khartoum armed Arab militias and encouraged them to loot and destroy villages of African communities suspected to support the rebels. The conflict between the Awlad Zeid and Zaghawa has to be seen in this context of counter-insurgency strategies by the Sudanese government (UCDP 2015; Brosché, 2012; Bradbury et al., 2006).

Resolution Efforts

After the violent incident in 2001, the Sudanese Army was deployed in the area to stop the fighting and keep the Zaghawa from the wells. In the same year, a peace conference was organized by the Government of Sudan to resolve the conflict. It failed to improve the situation and the Zaghawa perceived the conference as biased. As the government was unable to successfully address grievances between the two groups, many Zaghawa joined the SLA (Sudan Liberation Army), while many Awlad Zeid joined Arab Janjaweed militias, which would become notorious for their exactions during the Darfur civil war (Bradbury at al., 2006; UCDP, 2015).

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

Influences
Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Fatalities
70
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation
Mass Displacement None
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Resources
Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence There was no reduction in violence.
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 completely ignored.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity There has been no reduction in intensity
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


Actors
Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Zaghawa community
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Awlad Zeid community
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Government of Sudan
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
1 Dialogue In 2001, the Sudanese government organized a peace conference to resolve the conflict. However, it failed to improve the situation.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Common-pool resource: No one can be excluded from use but the good is depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Symmetric: All parties can affect the environmental resource equally.
Broad conflict characterization Resource Capture is strongly present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
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