Conflict Management Experience with Simba Divine Forces
The Maiko National Park (MNP) faces many challenges, including the activism of armed groups. This study analyses the case of the Divine Forces Simba (DFS) present in the park for several decades. The study allows breaking with some stereotypes conveyed by scientists, politicians and institutions on the analysis of conflicts related to natural resources. First, the study highlights that the conflict with MNP is not fuelled by the scarcity of natural resources, but rather by their abundance, favouring indirectly the financing of armed groups and fanning lusts. This denies the direct link between scarcity of natural resources and armed conflicts. It is therefore necessary to study each case of conflict in its particularity. Second, in this study, it is shown that in order to accomplish its mission, the ICCN must conduct mixed patrols and service missions with the DFS.
The collaboration between the ICCN and the DFS (assumed to be destructive for the park's resources) enriches the human-based approach to environmental conflicts, advocating to put the individual and the social group at the centre of the analysis, to study the institutional dimensions of these conflicts and seize the potential for prevention and resolution found in these institutions, whether customary, community or state. Lastly, if the crisis persists with MNP, it is mainly because of the weakness or fragility of the state who is unfit to carry out its sovereign missions. Providing ICCN with material, financial and human resources inferior to those held by armed groups is an indication of the state incapacity. The study also highlights the importance of using a state-focused approach to explain natural resource conflicts.