Resolving Farmer-Herder Conflicts

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Farmer-herder conflicts in Nigeria, which were predominantly in the North-Central region, have spread across the country. The conflicts result in indiscriminate and avoidable loss of lives and properties. The country is locked in a perennial macabre dance between sedentary farmers and nomadic pastoralists or herders.

Although mostly an agrarian resource problem, an inaccurate definition of the conflict has turned it into one rooted in political, cultural, and ethno-religious beliefs and other distorted considerations. These narratives and profiles have aided aggressive encroachment and reprisal aggression between the parties leading to mutual hostility and reverse-violent attacks.

Data from Nextier SPD Violent Conflict Database13 shows that in the twelve months to September 2021, farmer-herder conflicts occurred 71 times, accounting for 406 deaths, 49 injured, and 15 kidnapped persons. Except for one death, all the victims were civilians. The North-Central region remains the hotbed for farmer-herder conflicts (in terms of incidents), while the North-West is the most violent in terms of casualties per incident. The North-Central region recorded 58 percent of the incidents and accounted for 61 percent of the casualties.

At the same time, the South-West region recorded the second-highest number of incidents (25 percent of the total), only 12 percent of the deaths. The North-West region, on the other hand, recorded 4 percent of the incidents but 15 percent of the deaths. These proportions hold even when comparing all the victims (death, injured and kidnapped) to the total number of incidents. It is worthy of note that although the South-East recorded 6 percent of the incidents, it accounted for 9 percent of the deaths. The South-South had 6 percent of the incidents but only 3 percent of the casualties.