Farmer-herder conflict in sub-Saharan Africa?

October 2020
Saverio Krätli and Camilla Toulmin (IIED Research report)

This report responds to heightened concerns over rising levels of farmer-herder conflict across a wide band of semi-arid Africa. It assesses the quantitative evidence behind this general impression and reviews the explanations in the scientific literature in the light of known issues with long-standing attitudes towards pastoralism and mobile populations. Looking at the data available, it finds that total levels of all forms of violence have been rising in the last ten years, especially in some countries. However, it finds there is no evidence that incidents associated with farming and herding or involving pastoralist populations have grown at a faster rate than all other forms of violence. The report shows that looking at the increasing violence through the lens of ‘farmer-herder’ conflict is overly simplistic and makes assumptions about causality which have no foundation. It identifies examples of constructive engagement with the phenomenon to map out pathways to more peaceful outcomes. The report concludes with recommendations for establishing fairer forms of governance, strengthening local institutions and managing competition over land.