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Climate Change May be Causing Nigerian Conflicts

It was too late for the residents of Ukpabi Nimbo, as the attackers invaded their village. According to media reports, heavily armed herdsmen stormed the village in the southeast of Nigeria at the end of April. Dozens were killed, houses and churches were destroyed.

Such raids are common in Nigeria. Herdsmen, often nomads, compete with farmers for fertile lands. The conflicts were often restricted to northern Nigeria. But now nomads, partly from neighboring countries, are reaching the south in search of greener pastures.

In February, 300 people in central Nigeria died after such a raid and 7000 were displaced. According to SBM Intelligence, a consulting company that offers in-depth investigation, there were 400 such incidents between 1997 and 2015, mostly in the fertile green belt of Nigeria. Estimations show that more than a thousand people die every year.

Nigeria is not the only country in Africa dealing with disputes between farmers and herdsmen. Other African countries experiencing fewer rainfalls are also affected. Climate change is causing one drought after another, water is scarce, the fertile ground for cattle is disappearing and so is the livelihood of the nomads and cattle herdsmen.

This leads to a rise in population in many countries. Estimations show that the population in Nigeria will double by 2050; that is 440 from the current 183 million people. The herdsmen have less pasture and the farmers less fields. Farmers usually plant on former grazing corridors and then cattle belonging to the herdsmen eat their harvest or trample on their fields. This leads to conflict.

World Bank Photo Collection

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