Panel 33

Mobility, identity and occupational space in the herders and farmers conflicts in Africa

Panel organiser: Oshita O. Oshita, Director General/CEO, IPCR, Ministry of foreign affairs, Abuja, Nigeria.


The notion of Mobilities and African Mobilites in particular, is central to contemporary peace and security concerns and is increasingly central to configurations of future scenarios of the politics of global (dis)order. It is therefore important for researchers and scholars to identify and interrogate the causes, nature, character, direction and implications of mobilities for governance, peace, conflict, security and livelihoods. In what ways, for example, can the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), be impacted by the various dimensions of mobilities experienced in Africa?

As African countries are affected by the herders and farmers conflicts in varying degrees, due partly to the character of internal mobilities, these countries do present case examples for evaluating the empirical evidence around recurring violent conflicts between herders and sedentary crop farmers in communities. This panel seeks to promote an understanding of the bloody in-country competition for (land) resources between the two occupational groups – animal herders and crop farmers. The objective of the panel is to deepen knowledge on the episodic but recurring violent conflicts between herders and sedentary farmers in different countries in the continent. The panel will, among other things, consider how the stage of (under)development and politicians are driving the narratives around this conflict and unsettling the peace, unity and social cohesion of African countries.

Approved abstracts panel 33

1. Beyond ‘Livestock Source Food’ (LSF) in Northern Nigeria: Herdsmen Mayhem and the Challenge of Rural-Urban Displacement

Author: Adewale Oluwole Owoseni, Department of Philosophy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.

In contemporary Northern Nigeria, the politicization of livestock (especially cattle, for the sake of grazing, pasture or water) by supposed Fulani herdsmen has taken on a violent dimension, manifested in both rural and urban livelihood. Many communities in Yobe, Adamawa, Benue, and Plateau States among others are constantly attacked by these herdsmen, and this has led to the decimation of lives and property.

Basically, this suggests a line of thought, that there is more to the conception of livestock beyond the idea of livestock as a mere source of food within the precinct of Northern Nigeria. In other words, there is a sense in which livestock in rural-urban spaces in Northern Nigeria is being employed as nomadic agents to precipitate the art of diminishing some indices of rural-urban divide.

This is to speak of the prevalence of aggravated poverty, poor education, religious fundamentalism, imminent security and safety threat, which eventually culminate into a kind of internal displacement in both rural and urban zones in Northern Nigeria. The aforementioned problem demands the coalescence of theoretical and practical understanding, in order to forge a plausible approach to make sense of the politicization of livestock in this context.

However, at a theoretical level, this discourse attempts to inquire a collaborative insight from the humanities and agro-allied extension outlooks to make sense of the dynamics of ‘beyond LSF’ in Northern Nigeria. Specifically, the discourse adopts a philosophical approach to complement agro-allied disciplinary outlooks, in order to address the issue of internal displacement in rural-urban Northern Nigeria that suggests a ‘beyond LSF’ reality. The significance of this lies in its emphasis on the need to embrace an interdisciplinary approach to proffer ways of understanding the politicization of livestock in Northern Nigeria.  

Key Words: LSF, Northern Nigeria, Herdsmen, Rural-Urban, Displacement.

2. Nomadic Fulani Herdsmen’s Violent Attacks in Southeastern Nigeria, and Their Effects on Adolescents Wellbeing: Implications for Good Governance

Author: Anthony Sopuruchi Anih, Abo Akademi University Vaasa, Finland.

Objective: To analyze the negative effects of the violent attacks by the Ethnic Militia called Nomadic Fulani Herdsmen, in the Southeastern geo-political region of Nigeria, with a focus on their impact on adolescents living in the region.

Method: Data were collected with a questionnaire administered to schools. Two-hundred and fifty adolescents (170 girls, 80 boys; mean age 16.1 years, SD 1.1) participated in filling in the questionnaire pertaining of both single items and scales measuring PTSD, physical punishment, domestic violence, parental negativity, anti-social behavior, poverty and war experiences.

Results: Girls scored significantly higher than boys of symptoms of PTSD.Out of the two hundred and fifty adolescents, 20.8% had lost someone close to them during the war, and 8.4% had themselves been injured. Nine percent had themselves injured someone during the war, and 5.2% had actually killed someone during the war. It is of importance to note that 1.8% reported having been raped by an armed group, and 1.2% reported having been taken as a sex slave.

Conclusions: The results indicate that the Fulani herdsmen attacks had a strongly negative impact on the adolescents which are likely to affect them throughout the rest of their lives.

Key words: Fulani herdsmen, ethnic militia, Nigeria, adolescents, gender, war, PTSD, rape, murder

3. Understanding the context of the Violent conflicts between pastoralists and farmers in Taraba State in North East Nigeria

Author: Kidzu Thomas Oweh, Department of Philosophy, Federal University Wukari, Taraba State, Nigeria.

Despite the escalation of the Boko Haram Insurgency in the North East from 2009, with the killing of Mohammed Yusuf, Taraba State was not involved in the insecurity in the North East until recently when the herders and farmers conflict intensified. While some link the killings by suspected herdsmen to the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, others allege an agenda to Islamize the largely Christian population of Taraba State down to Benue State in proximate North Central zone. In this paper we will examine the context and history of the tensions in Taraba State with a view to understanding the objective factors that may be underlying the violent conflicts in the communities in the State.

We shall attempt to answer the question of whether historical factors in Taraba State account for the present violent conflicts or the causes are linked to a broader agenda associated with religion as alleged by General Theophilus Danjuma, former Chief of Army Staff and native of Taraba. A conflict mapping and stakeholder analysis will be carried out and recommendations will be made on how to address the tensions and expanding system of violence in Taraba through peaceful means.

The objective of the Paper is to establish the basis for an empirically-founded narrative that explains the rising wave of violent conflicts and destruction of communities in Taraba State in order to dispel the conspiracy theories that dominate current narratives.

4. An analytical inventory of policy responses to the herders and farmers conflicts in the ECOWAS region

Author: Oshita O. Oshita, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Abuja, Nigeria.

The resource competition in the agricultural sector, particularly between pastoralists and sedentary crop farmers is getting increasingly complicated in Africa. Across the member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and in Nigeria in particular, this conflict is assuming both political and ethnic dimensions. Indeed, the criminal opportunistic linkages to the escalating conflicts between the herders and sedentary farmers are such that dangerous profiling of ethnic groups is assuming a standard response, affecting age-long traditional relationships between animal and crop farmers in various communities.  

The Paper begins by presenting a broad overview of the policy environment as it relates to the pastoralists and sedentary farmers. It then explores the resolution of this conflict from the policy perspective, using the official documents, protocols and traditional practices articulated by various authorities from the regional, national and local levels in responding to this conflict in the last 20 years. The Paper seeks to determine the factors that may have impaired success in resolving the conflicts and contributed to their escalation despite the existence of various strategic policy initiatives at the ECOWAS member states levels.

The paper also seeks to locate the sources of the alleged criminalities, particularly associated with transhumance, in order to explore complementary alternative and transformative conflict resolution frameworks that could address the existing problems in the short, medium and long term. References will be made to some case examples from Nigeria, Senegal, Niger and Ghana.

The Paper concludes by advancing policy-relevant recommendations that will promote peaceful coexistence and protect the occupational interests of all stakeholders by enhancing transformational animal and crop farming practices. This will be done with a focus on increasing cumulative yield and strengthening the value chain for both occupations.

5. Governance of Agro-pastoral Resources and Conflicts between local Farmers and Herders in Tienko, North of Côte d'Ivoire

Author: Tra Goin Lou Tina Virginie, Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel, Switzerland.

Increasing climate variability in the Sahel provokes an earlier arrival of transhumant pastoralists in their host areas located in further south in West Africa's coastal countries. These areas witnessed an extremely rapid growth of their population due to the introduction of perennial and cash crops. In Côte d'Ivoire, this precarious situation has deteriorated substantially due to the sociopolitical crisis that rocked the country from 2002 through 2011. As the rebellion of the Forces Nouvelles (FN) led to a retreat of the state and its administration in the area, the crisis also accelerated the transformation of institutions of natural resource management in northern Côte d'Ivoire. Indeed, the FN rebels established new rules for resource management, especially by regulating access to pastoral resources for transhumant pastoralists from the Sahel. These institutional dynamics caused a change in interactions between various actors in the governance of resources, aggravating conflicts between transhumant pastoralists and local farmers. With the signing of the Ouagadougou peace agreement in March 2007, the situation has begun to normalize. Several state structures were redeployed in the Northern part of Côte d’Ivoire. But, that led in this zone, especially in the sub-prefecture of Tienko, to the overlapping of state authorities and rebel’s authorities on the regulation of agro-pastoral areas and conflict. In the post-crisis context (after the post-electoral crisis in 2011), it became important to question the way power relations will be renegotiated between various actors.

This study aims at understanding resource-use conflicts between herders and farmers stemming from changes in the governance of agro-pastoral areas in Tienko.

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