My mother; a Chief in her community in Abraka Delta State, South of Nigeria, called me last week distressed by reports of the deaths of men, women and children who went to the farm; killed by herdsmen in the quest to access pasture for their livestock. Abraka is predominantly a farming town; there are zero herdsmen. The herdsmen in the town move from the north of Nigeria to sell their livestock.
For many years with the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kenya. I was tasked with advocating for sustainable actions to stop fatalities from the conflict between pastoralists (herdsmen) and with farmers in East Africa. In this role I liaised with Uganda. Ethiopia, Sudan. Somalia and Tanzania travelling to these countries to meet with national authorities for urgent actions. Part of my responsibilities under the UN included helping the African Union Commission develop a regional framework to support African countries to address this kind of crises. The African Union framework was adopted in 2012.
I continued with this commitment in my 3 years in Nigeria Heading the United Nations Humanitarian Advisory Team. I prioritised support to ending this kind of conflict in the north and central Nigeria, including visiting regions in Nasarawa, Plateau and Benue states following such attacks. It was a shock to hear from my mum that this conflict has moved to my own home town in Abraka, Delta State, south of Nigeria. Nigeria needs to urgently address the growing senseless killings from conflicts between herdsmen and farmers across the country.
Rarely do these killings make the headline; the people who die are the poor, in villages, but the number is huge. The international NGO Mercycorp recently released a report that Nigeria loses at least 2.5 trillion Naira annually to these conflicts, but beyond the economic cost are the hundreds of lives lost every year.
Choice is a passionate advocate for the rights of peoples affected by natural disasters and conflict; including the effectiveness of humanitarian action in Africa and the world. With over 20 years experience; Choice has worked in over 15 countries across all continents.