Local Learning: Ideas for Reducing Farmer-herder Conflicts in Nigeria
In Nigeria today, the farmer-herder conflict is one of the most pressing conflicts disrupting lives and livelihoods. It was reported that the violent conflict claimed an estimated 8,000 lives from 2011 to 2019, based on a 2019 joint assessment by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons. The humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict is also alarming, with an estimated 620,000 people that have been displaced in states such as Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau where the conflicts have been prevalent. In Benue, over 180,000 people were internally displaced, living in at least eight Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. The conflict has been previously linked to challenges that borders on climate change and land resource struggles between the farmers and the herders. While these factors remain relevant to understanding the key causal factors for the conflict, present-day triggers show the dynamic and unique nature of the conflict in different locations. The benefits of strategies such as Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement and anti-grazing laws deployed by the federal and state governments to mitigate the conflict have not been fully evident or utilised. More so that, they have generated mixed reactions from people, depending on which side of the conflict divide they stood. For example, the passage of the anti-grazing law in Benue State caused thousands of herders to migrate to neighbouring state, Nasarawa that doesn’t have such laws. The migration, an influx of almost 2 million cattle and ethnic tensions heightened the conflict amongst the warring parties in Nasarawa state. The multi-dimensional nature of the conflict points out the need for more practical multifaceted sustainable solutions. An experience sharing and learning conference that sought to understand the current trends and dynamics of the farmer-herder conflict as well as strengthen existing linkages between national, state, community-based organizations, and local peacebuilders including religious and traditional leaders, who are working towards addressing, or are involved in the conflicts was organised.