Farmer-Herder Conflict in Northern Nigeria: Trends, Dynamics and Gender Perspectives

The farmer-herder conflict in Nigeria has become persistent and pervasive with debilitating consequences on human lives and their sources of livelihoods. Although scholars, policy makers and development workers have given attention to the conflict, the trends and dynamics of the conflict, as well as the direct and indirect actors in the conflicts, are constantly changing. The constantly changing nature of the conflict makes efforts at resolving it by both state and non-state actors difficult. This research explored the current conflict dynamics, the various actors, causes and triggers, its gender dimensions, as well as the effectiveness of conflict mitigation mechanisms used to date. The findings of the research revealed that there are increasing occurrences of farmer-herder conflicts in virtually all the states. The research attributes the root of the conflict to transhumance, under-aged herding, damages to crops by livestock and encroachment on livestock grazing routes and tracks by farmers. The major triggers of the conflict include biased responses of security agencies, corrupt disposition of traditional rulers, use of drugs and hard substances, existing ethnic/communal divides and mistrust, negative interpretation of religious differences and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The main actors in the conflicts included farmers, herders, bandits, kidnappers, migratory herders, security personnel, and other interest groups. Findings from the research illustrate how women farmers and herders are portrayed as victims who are disproportionately affected by the conflict. Women farmers reported losses of farmlands and crops because of damage caused by livestock to their means of livelihood. Some women have lost their husbands; some husbands have lost their wives while both have lost relatives and children during the violence. The varied effects of the conflict forced the victims to adopt various survival mechanisms.