By Bukar Bolori
The United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is partnering with Mercy Corps and Search for Common Ground on a project to mitigate conflict between farmer and herder communities in Adamawa State.
Farmer-herder violence which has been on the increase in the country for over the past ten years is well documented, with geographic concentrations in North-Central, North-Eastern and North-Western States recording more than their fair share of the crisis.
These conflicts between farmers and herders are believed to have been fuelled by competition over natural resources due to demographic growth, expansion of human settlements, privatisation of land, year-round farming practices, environmental degradation, and climate change.
Also growing land pressures, social inequalities, changes in land use and access to resources, livestock theft and distrust among communities have made traditional dispute resolution processes ineffective in some areas, contributing to the escalation of the conflict.
A press state by IOM on Wednesday said in order to contribute to the mitigation of conflict over natural resources, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), together with Search for Common Ground (SFCG), and Mercy Corps are collaborating on the pilot project “Contributing to the mitigation of conflict over natural resources between farmer and herder communities in Adamawa State, Nigeria”, or in short COMITAS.
The statement read that on June 22, IOM, its partners, stakeholders, and government officials converged in Abuja for the second high-level project steering committee meeting to provide project updates and share lessons learned and findings.
“The farmer-herder crisis is affected by environmental factors and climate change which call for ecosystem restoration. The crisis requires an early warning and early response system and the building of social cohesion to promote peaceful coexistence,” mentioned Prestage Murima, Chief of Mission a.i. at IOM Nigeria. Amongst the achievements of COMITAS is the establishment of an Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) system.
The EWER system consists of the Transhumance Tracking Tool (TTT) information management system which has been established in 35 communities, peace-building platforms at the community, local government, and state levels in 10 communities in Adamawa State.
According to data from the latest Transhumance Tracking Tool report (May 2022), 287 alerts were recorded by the TTT Early Warning tool in May. These alerts consist of 255 (89%) events and 32 (11%) massive/sudden movements. On average communities have been able to immediately respond to more than 33% of the alerts to prevent the escalation into conflict.
The State Coordination Office for World Bank and other development partners in Adamawa State, Robert Ahidjo said that: “I would like to thank all the partners for working on the COMITAS project. It is aligned to the policies and priorities of the Adamawa State Government and the needs of communities affected by the farmer-herder crisis.
”Programme Manager for Peace and Security of the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, representing EU Ambassador Samuela Isopi, Jérôme Rivière said: “The EU intends to continue promoting peace and stability in Nigeria, building on the success of the COMITAS project.”
According to the statement, the project is improving trust in authorities and enhancing collaboration between farmers and herders communities on natural resources management to enable them to address the challenges they face due to climate change and environmental degradation which has led to increased food insecurity and migration.
“This initiative is making a positive contribution to the National Livestock Transformation Plan. It is imperative to scale up the pilot project and reach more communities affected by this crisis,” added Dr. Andrew Kwasari, Senior Special Advisor to the President on Agriculture.
It is also contributing to improved inter-communal perceptions by strengthening media outlets’ capacities in conflict-sensitive reporting and broadcasting peace messaging.
This initiative is funded by the the instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) of the European Union.