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The refugees and climate change crises: clashes between the farmers and herdsmen


The refugees and climate change crises: clashes between the farmers and herders.

By Oladosu Adenike

Oladosu Adenike in a conversation with the chairman of the IDP camp


Climate change has no identity and the reality is happening around the world. The clashes between the farmers and herdsmen are becoming complex. Migration as an adaptation strategy is failing in recent times because they have the same needs in common; water, land and vegetative cover. As the northern part of Nigeria is drying up, so is the central region becoming weaker due to frequent herdsmen migration; hence leading to frequent clashes because of the limited and depleted natural resource. You can imagine a world where arable soil becomes arid and rainfall becomes scanty and acidic, what do you think will happen to our farmlands? This year, I was surprised that while moving along the university I graduated from some years ago, I found out that there is now an Internally Displaced Person camp along the road side yet Benue state remains the "Food Basket of the Nation" in Nigeria. This implies that the bulk of the food production is carried out in this particular state due to its fertile landscape. In my quest to get to the root of it, I met the head of the camp who narrated how and what led to their displacement.

 According to Mr. Gabriel, he stated that; “hunger is better than death because there is no form of resource to depend on.” According to him, the crisis of the clashes started in 2010 but became permanently displaced in 2013. Initially, there were about 10,502 populations in the camp before they were split to other areas due to lack of space. Those people are from 8 different council wards which includes;Uvir, Mbadwem, Mbabai, Mbawa, Inyiev, Mbayer/Yamev,guma L.G; Mbalagh and Egan.In Makurdi L.G; Ajimaka, Okpata.Doma L.G. In Nassarawa state; Giza, BakinKoltar. In Kiana L.G; Damkor and 7 households from Taraba state. Likewise this crisis has made him drop out of school just like every other person that has been affected. He is scared that these children that are out of school might become a nuisance to the society if no actions are taken to take them back to school.

Also over time, stemming from the fact that we are faced with drought and flood due that temperature are rising more than the global average. These compounding effects of the climate crisis are the resultant impact of the clashes between the farmers and the herders. These two stakeholders play key roles in our food systems. As climate changes, conflicts arise due to limited resources. This scenario occurs only in the Lake Chad region, of which Nigeria shares the largest negative impact stemming from the crises. Due to these factors, the displacement of both due to resource control has been one of the single greatest threats to food security which eventually resulted in increased poverty and hunger in our world today. According to Mr. Gabriel, he has 5 hectare of land for rice through which he produces 50 to 70 bags from the farmland. So are the realities of the millions of these farmers that are victims of the displacement as restated by him. As an agricultural economist, for every farmer’s displacement, there is always an equal or greater impact on our food security. Moreso, there are two schools of thoughts; first assert that migration is a failure of adaptation while the other states that migration is an adaptation strategy. But both schools of thought are two sides of the same coin. The migration of herdsmen and their cattle as a survival strategy in search for green pasture is failing in recent times due to resource control. This crisis is fast becoming a new normal that is capable of leading to a divided society because our democracy is distorted. Environmental instability like this leads to a loss of human rights because they depend on aid for survival with an ill-hut as a house irrespective of the hazardous weather conditions.

                                    photo credit: Oladosu Adenike

I am afraid that a time will come where the whole world will become a refuge of itself. Also, the depleting Lake Chad is also another channel that creates a refugee crisis. Currently, Nigeria hosts the largest of those displaced people in the Lake Chad region and the conflict arising is due to resource use. This refugee crisis due to the impacts of climate change is the biggest disruption of livelihoods. For women and girls, they depend on aid for survival or manual labour as a source of livelihood. This is one of the several insecurities that lead to women and girls' dis-empowerment in our society today. Hence, we need a green democracy that includes a climate action agenda in protecting our human rights and democracy.

Adenike Oladosu is an ecofeminist and an advocate for green democracy. She writes from Abuja, Nigeria. Email

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