Understanding farmer- herder conflict in Africa

Violence involving pastoralist herders in West and Central Africa as perpetrators and victims has been surging in recent years. Since 2010, there have been over 15,000 deaths linked to farmer-herder violence with more than half of those have occurring since 2018.

The rise of farmer-herder conflict in Africa is more pernicious than fatality figures alone, however, since it is often amplified by the emotionally potent issues of ethnicity, religion, culture, and land. Militant Islamist groups in central Mali and northern Burkina Faso have instrumentalised such divisions to inflame grievances, thereby driving recruitment. Similarly, rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) have positioned themselves as defenders of pastoralist interests.

Ironically, most livestock herders have no association with extremist groups and are often victims of their actions. Nonetheless, once the genie of inter-communal conflict is unleashed, passions take over. Attacks become deadlier, expulsions more frequent, and reprisals extend to communities not immediately linked to the initial flashpoint. The stakes quickly shift from questions over resource access or local politics to deep-seated notions of identity. Entire communities are labelled bandits, insurgents, or terrorists. Although farmers and pastoralists have held competitive relations for centuries, the current climate of violence is unprecedented in modern times. The relationship between manageable farmer-herder disputes and spirals of inter-communal violence is complex. Nonetheless, positive lessons exist even where violence has been most concentrated.

Editor's Comment
‘Boraboko’ should face the wrath of the law

Still in Molepolole, a young woman was also reported missing, only for her decapitated body to be found inside in a shallow grave! The issue of missing persons has always been a challenge in our country, and a considerable number of missing persons are unfortunately found dead! Something troubling is the murders related to missing persons, which touch on an array of issues, including the killing of intimate partners, often referred to as passion...

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