Legal and Policy Responses to Climate Change-induced Migration and Conflict: Insights from Nigeria

Agu, Helen, Onyeabor, Emmanuel, Agu, Sussan


Nigeria has witnessed dramatic climate change impacts in recent years resulting in droughts and desertification in several northern states with fast receding grassland vegetation. This has induced migration especially by pastoral farmers from the semi-arid agro-ecological zones down south towards the Benue trough in search of lush green vegetation for their herds. The result is frequent strife and conflict between these nomadic groups and the sedentary farming communities in the rich Benue River Basin trough, resulting in loss of lives and properties. In recent years, the conflicts have assumed diverse political, religious and socio-cultural dimensions. Using an in-depth desk review of extant literature and policy documents, this paper appraises the policy and regulatory responses to these crises juxtaposing it with climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in Nigeria. We posit that the major causes of conflicts revolve around land ownership for settlement, grazing and farming; that the conflict has assumed ethno-religious colorations with great impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of the inhabitants and migrants. We realize that migration is a form of local level adaptation measure and conflict a directional reaction to these adaptation manifestations which need to be addressed holistically, and therefore propose  a comprehensive, all-engaging approach to dealing with this problem by recognizing the cause and effect of this migration and conflict which is climate change. This will inform policy and strategic interventions to address the underlying causes (climate change), and not just the manifestations (migration and conflict).

Keywords: Temperature changes, pastoralism, Farmers, Herdsmen, Desertification

DOI: 10.7176/JLPG/99-01

Publication date:July 31st 2020

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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