A study conducted by a research development and policy advocate Zinariya Consults estimates that over 300,000 people have been displaced with 1, 868 deaths recorded in four states since 2018 due to clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria.
An associate research professor with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution and one of the lead researchers commissioned for the study by Zinariya Consults Joseph Ochogwu said this while presenting the findings on Thursday in Abuja
During his presentation, Ochogwu said the research was conducted in partnership with the Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Global Rights.
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According to him, the research presentation titled ‘Trends and Dynamics of Conflict between Farmers and Pastoralists in Nigeria’s Benue Valley’ was conducted in Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba states.
He said the study found that between 2018 and 2019, access to water and grazing land became more competitive, leading farmers and herders into frequent arguments.
The researcher stated that the study revealed that the conflicts escalated when herders began to violate laid-down rules and livestock began to contaminate the only source of drinking water in some villages.
Ochogwu also said between 2012 – 2017, suspected herders carried out 49 attacks against communities in the study areas.
Some other key findings of the report included gender dimension of the conflict, mental and health implications of the conflict, demographic shift, community engagement, among others.
Speaking on some of the recommendations of the group, Ochogwu said, due to the complex nature of the conflict, it required participatory, inclusive and coordinated solutions.
The lead researcher said government should strengthen already existing community policing as well as work together to deploy a joint task force comprising army, navy, air force, police, para-military and civil institutions to restore law and order and build the population’s confidence in the government.
He further said that the research recommended that development partners partner with the government and community-based organisations to ensure that women were mainstreamed in peace-building programmes.
Ochogwu also urged the governments in key states to work with civil society organisations, the media, as well as gender and peacebuilding experts to develop programmes using conventional and social media, among others, to deconstruct social norms.
Speaking at the event, partner and chief executive officer of NexTier Ned Nwokolo advised the government to also look at the economic value of the farmers-herders conflict, including how much the country had lost and how much it could have made from pastoral farming.