Varsity Dons say women, children most affected by farmer-herder clashes

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Two university lecturers, on Saturday, noted that women and children are mostly affected by the consistent clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria.

Speaking during a book review, ‘The root cause of farmers-herders crisis in North Central Nigeria’, at Veritas University, Abuja, Dr Obodo Ijie of the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy observed that the conflicts, which have reduced access to farms, spiked theft, destruction of farms, killing of animals and reduction in sales of farm produce, negatively impacted on the economic activities and livelihood of women especially.

He explained: “Women have a weak capacity for economic resilience. Women and children, who are depended upon for labour, are forced to find alternative means of livelihood like begging alms, working as domestic helps, with the children made to hawk while others do menial jobs.

“This, in turn, has increased the level of vulnerability of children as some are maltreated, and some are used for transactional sex and drug abuse. This results in some of these women and children incurring sexually transmitted diseases. Thus, women and children were badly affected. Women also involved themselves in prostitution to feed themselves and their children.”


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He added that the research showed that violent clashes between farmers and herders are largely viewed as attacks perpetrated by male aggressors, while women and children are categorised as vulnerable groups who are caught up in a vicious web of violence.

He was quick to observe that while there are clear indications that show that women are mostly visualised as victims who bear the brunt of the violence, it failed to recognise that there are some women who are stakeholders in the agriculture sector and are likely to share the grievances and concerns of male farmers and herders.

Dr Obodo revealed that the loss of family members and relations represents one of the most traumatic experiences for women in farmer-herder conflicts as it disrupts the family structure.

He stated: “It is also largely believed that displacement and dislocation of families occur when the conflict between farmers and herders occurs. As a result, people are forced to leave their homes to seek refuge with friends and families or in the worst cases move to temporary camps for internally displaced persons.”

He added that forced displacements in a way create other problems like destruction of normal patterns of living, increased poverty and worsened economic status.

He disclosed that herdsmen also have bruises to nurse, saying milk and butter that are always given to women and children for sale to meet their daily needs have been affected as the persistent crisis has reduced the quantity of dairy products thereby affecting their income.

“The cattle are not producing milk adequately because of less food consumption, they are chased by farmers because they encroach into farmlands and some are inflicted with diseases. This has made the women associated with the herders have less milk to sell resulting in some begging or staying at home idle,” he said.

He further maintained that the conflict has resulted in a reduced visitation to markets that are far from the affected communities as markets are described as ‘bush markets’ where things are bought at cheaper rates.

Dr Obodo insisted that the raging conflicts increase the prices of food and beef.

On his part, Dr Isaac Otegwu, also of the Department of Political Science, explained that the research effort is useful as veritable reference material for further research by scholars.

He added: “It is a must-read for policymakers in their search for lasting solutions to the recurrent clashes between farming communities and herders. Security agencies will also find the book informative as useful intelligence can be garnered therefrom to assist in arresting the situation and preventing further crises. Traditional institutions across affected states who are interested in fostering peaceful coexistence between the aggrieved groups will also benefit from the findings of the research.”

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