Climate Change and Farmers-Herders Conflict in Nigeria, 2012-2019
Climate change according to Stillman and Miller refers to the changes in the typical or moderate weather of a place, region, or city. This could be an alternative or changes in the region moderate annual rainfall, or it could also be a change in a region or city average temperature. Climate change can also be referred to as a long -term change in earth’s climate. This includes warming, cooling, and changes besides temperature. Human beings are contributing to the climate and the earth’s temperature by their activities such as burning fossil fuels, cutting down the forest, and farming livestock..This contributes to the huge amount of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmospheres, thereby increasing the greenhouse effect. Many of these greenhouse gases occur naturally, but the activities of human beings facilitate the concentration of some of them in the atmosphere, particularly Carbon dioxide C02, Methane
Nitrous Oxide, and fluorinated gases.
Climate change has an impact in almost all the region of the world irrespective of their races and cultures. In some regions, polar ice shields are melting and the volume of water in the sea is rising, while some other region experience extreme weather conditions such as extreme rainfall, extreme heat waves, and droughts.
Many people living in developing countries are among the most affected, as people living in that region often relied heavily on their natural environment for survival.
Again, some regions have recorded a tremendous increase in health-related deaths and a decline in cold-related deaths in others regions.
However, the discourse on climate change and its impacts on human activities have attracted a lot of public attention but very little attention in the area of its relationship with the Farmers -Herders conflicts in Nigeria.
The Relationship Between Climate Change And Farmers/ Herders Conflict In Nigeria. The herders in Nigeria (Fulani people) were originally known as pastoralists, herding animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and camels across the vast dry hinterland of. their domain. As nomads, they spend most of their time in the bushes and forests with their animals moving from one place to the other in search of greener pastures(Antes,2011). The Fulani herders originally maintained friendly relations with their host communities, for centuries mutually benefiting from each other. Farmers benefitted from cattle feces/manure to fertilize their lands and herders benefitted from crops refuse to feed their herds. These established symbiotic practices allowed for most disputes between them to be resolved amicably.
There were established grazing zones and migration routes for the herders, without the encroachment of local farmers, however these migration routes and grazing routes were not protected for the Fulani herders, as farmers encroached into the grazing reserves, this though did not generate significant clashes between the Farmers and Herders. The symbiotic relationship between farmer and herders went sour in recent time, because of population growth which led to the expansion in agriculture and more competition for lands for farming. This was heightened by climate change; shrinking of natural resources resulting from drought and desertification which led to the movement of herders in large numbers into the sedentary domain of farmers in the middle belt and southern parts of Nigeria. This resulted in the intense competition for land resources between herders and farmers. In most cases, the herders are resented because their cattle causes damage to both cultivated crops and harvested agricultural produce. The resentment of Herders by the Farmers often lead to violent conflict, conflicts that intensify with headers increased need for more grazing lands.
The increased occurrence of violent conflict emanating from the Farmers and Herders in recent time has taken a different dimension. The relationship that resulted in Farmers/ Herders conflict could best be explained using Eco-Violence theory as propounded by Homer-Dixon in 1999.
The theory posits that shrinking resources stir up violent conflict by bringing a divide in the social relations between and among different groups who share common ecological resources. In this case, scarcity of lands, caused by climate change; drought and desertification gave rise to the mass movement of Herders into the hinterland in the domain of the farmers in search of grazing land. This resulted in a conflict that has devastating impacts on lives and properties.
Impact of Farmers-Herders Conflicts in Nigeria
The farmers-herders conflicts have devastating consequences on the individual and collective well-being of Nigerian citizens. These series of conflicts between farmers and herders have resulted in the destruction of agricultural produce, led to the displacement of people, spiked the rate of killings, and the destruction of communities, These conflicts degenerated into banditry, terrorism, mass genocides, insecurity of epic magnitude, with crippling effect also on the economy.
Evidently, climate change can precipitate farmers/herders conflict, which can give rise to wanton destruction of lives and properties. To pre-empt or resolve this, there should be government presence at the grass root level. There should also be educating and re-educating on the value of a more peaceful co-existence. Then of course on a more beneficial way to handle the environment to reduce precarious climate changes,
Ifeoma Ethel Ezeabasili. Ph.D