The last few decades have witnessed overwhelming burdens of strife, conflict, and natural and socio-economic disasters. One of such challenges is the predominant conflict between farmers and herders in the Sahelian regions of Sub-Saharan Africa especially in Northern Nigeria, gasping for their share of the limited land and water resources, and grazing pastures for their herds. This has led to numerous socio-economic disasters ranging from loss of farmlands, water pollution, community attacks, and population displacement among others. Understanding the impact of this on the population, Ikore is stepping in through the deployment of various innovative strategies focused on building the resilience of victims and providing access to valuable resources for agropastoralists to thrive.
A primary and important contributor and multiplier to the threat of pastoral conflicts and strife for limited water resources in Northern Nigeria is climate change. This is evidenced by the theory of relative deprivation leading to worsened living conditions and a dearth in the efficient distribution of water resources. Progressive desertification and erratic patterns of rainfall have exacerbated the effect of climate change, putting pastoralists at the risk of losing their livelihoods and displacing affected communities. In search of water and pasture, some pastoralists migrate along established mobility routes due to seasonal changes and the process of migration may trigger conflicts as the livestock encounter farmlands, national borders and vulnerable communities. As a result of violence related to pastoralism in the Sahelian region which includes Northeast Nigeria, over 15,000 deaths have been recorded in the past decade. Millions of actors including herders, farmers, and businesses are involved in the pastoral livestock value chain and a disruption to this value chain by violence, forced displacement, or failure in environmental resources management creates a ripple effect that threatens food security and economic stability.
Apart from the conventional reliance on government intervention on agropastoral issues, development organizations are working to provide succor to vulnerable groups and communities affected by these issues. Our work at Ikore focuses on various nodes of intervention to address root causes of conflicts and community clashes as well as build resilience of conflict-torn groups and communities. There are areas in the savanna with enough pasture areas but very few water points. Ikore is employing systems thinking approach to provide support and engage with agropastoral communities.
We primarily address these issues by setting up water points/pastoral wells that allow optimum utilization of pastoral lands thereby reducing vulnerability, an approach that helps increase productivity through reduced mortality and morbidity, weight gain, higher fecundity of livestock, and improved milk production. Our effort at establishing pastoral wells along transhumance routes is greatly contributing to the reduction of water access-related conflicts between herders and crop farmers. We have used an inclusive joint stakeholder approach to bring together community leaders, CBOs, and leaders of pastoralists in setting up and managing these water points. This approach falls in line with proven strategies employed by some Sahelian states which provide some level of protection for access to pasture and water for mobile pastoralists and empower communities to effectively manage conflicts and ensure peaceful co-existence.
Ikore has come to understand that pastoral communities with high mobility are highly vulnerable and economically disadvantaged, particularly their women and young people. We, therefore, provide them with capacity building in entrepreneurship and agri-business. They are empowered with training, input, and operation support in poultry production (local chicken), commercial dairy business, and animal health service provision. Over the past two years, we have supported 235 beneficiaries including women and girls focusing on Northeast Nigeria. Two years from now, we envision a north star of 5,000 beneficiaries of this initiative through concerted efforts in mobilizing resources for this target group. Ikore is looking to collaborate on increasing access to water for agriculture and resilience-building along mobility routes in Nigeria.