Rebecca J. Wolfe, D. S. Dawop, C. Grady, L. Inks

Does Peacebuilding Work in the Midst of Conflict?

Persistent violence between farmers and pastoralists in Nigeria has contributed to more than 7,000 deaths in the past five years and costs the Nigerian economy $13 billion a year. Communities in the Middle Belt that once cooperated over natural resources are competing for increasingly scarce land and water as climate change intensifies, sparking migration further south in search of available resources. Underdevelopment and poor governance further contribute to a breakdown in traditional agreements, and farmer and pastoralist communities are fast becoming polarized as clashes take on religious and ethnic overtones.

In response, Mercy Corps and our local partner, Pastoral Resolve (PARE), implemented the USAID-funded Engaging Communities for Peace in Nigeria (ECPN), from 2015 to 2019 in the Middle Belt states of Benue and Nasarawa. The program sought to prevent violent conflict between farmer and pastoralist communities through three main interventions: (1) strengthening the capacity of local leaders to resolve disputes inclusively and sustainably, including training and coaching them in interest-based negotiation and mediation; (2) building trust by facilitating opportunities for people to collaborate across conflict lines on quick-impact projects and natural resource management initiatives that addressed shared needs; and (3) fostering engagement among community leaders and local authorities to prevent conflict through joint violence prevention planning as well as information sharing around conflict triggers and violent incidents.

Mercy Corps

The University of Chicago