Abuja, June 28, 2019 – As part of efforts to mitigate the herdsmen-farmers crisis in some parts of Nigeria, the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) has visited the country and met with key stakeholders to discuss the protracted conflict affecting numerous communities, particularly in Benue and Nasarawa states.
The violent conflict has led to massive displacement of people from the affected communities, death of hundreds and loss of livelihoods, posing a formidable threat to the country’s food security and long-term stability.
During the mission, the UNTFHS led by Ms. Mehrnaz Mostafavi facilitated a training workshop aimed at equipping implementing partners with the required knowledge and practical skills to apply the human security approach within the context of the country’s middle belt. The workshop under the theme “Applying the Human Security Approach to Operationalize the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus in Nigeria” held from June 24—26, 2019.
Participants at the workshop appreciated the important role guaranteed human security plays in fostering socioeconomic development in the country. The visiting team shared insights into the significance of the human security approach as a framework for policy-making in complex development challenges.
While in Makurdi, Benue State capital, the team met with representatives of civil society organizations, farmers associations, local and state government representatives, community elders, traditional leaders, and representatives of local and international non-governmental organizations with whom they exchanged information on key elements of the human security approach which could be employed in promoting dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts, especially between the herdsmen and farmers in the region.
The team later engaged in a policy dialogue in Abuja, organized by UNDP, in collaboration with UNHCR and FAO. The event, dubbed “Transitioning from humanitarian relief to long-term development: Addressing the herdsmen-farmers conflict in Nigeria” brought together senior UN representatives in the country, experts from national and local governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector, and explored several policy options that could be adopted in the quest to end the conflict. Key among the recommendations was the advocacy for comprehensive solutions, preventive and mitigating measures, which requires that all key stakeholders be integrated into policy planning and response frameworks, thereby strengthening long-term resilience and safeguarding sustainable development.
The policy dialogue also served as a platform to enhance multi-stakeholder partnerships to support implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.
“The human security approach recognizes the full array of challenges that can both propel the devastating force of a crisis and undercut prospects for sustainable peace and development. This essential understanding presents opportunities to complement immediate humanitarian efforts, while helping to shape long-term solutions that put people on the path towards inclusive and sustainable development,” UN resident coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon said in his opening statement at the event in Abuja.
Chief of the United Nations Human Security Unit, who is also leading the team, Ms. Mehrnaz Mostafavi, noted that the challenges to human security of both farmers and herders and activities are structured around addressing the numerous risks to safeguard livelihoods and promote peace”.
She added that a piecemeal approach will not address the prevalent cycle of violence and multi-faceted nature of the herder-farmer conflict, but instead a comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses the root causes of the conflict while reducing the vulnerability of communities to protection risks is required.
This dialogue is the first in a series of consultations for the implementation of UNTFHS programme, a three-year project being implemented by UNDP, UNHCR and FAO in partnership with Benue and Nasarawa state governments. The overall goal of the intervention is to contribute to ending the herdsmen-farmers conflict in affected states.
— Lucky Musonda, UNDP, Abuja