Farmer-herder conflict in Africa: re-thinking the phenomenon?

June 2020
IIED Briefing (Saverio Kratli and Camilla Toulmin)

Draws from a research report which responded to heightened concerns over rising conflict and antagonism between predominantly herding groups and more settled farming peoples across a wide band of semi-arid Africa. Many increasingly blame ‘farmer–herder conflict’, but neither recent history nor surveys of armed violence support this simplification. Pastoralism is seen as disruptive and backward, fighting an unwinnable battle for scarce resources. Yet in truth it is an under-valued adaptation to variability that can make livelihoods and landscapes more climate-resilient. Understanding the roots, dynamics and meaning of conflict, providing space for listening and negotiating, and supporting livelihood and economic opportunities are key to mapping out pathways to peace for the whole region.