Climate change, migration and resource contestations : a case study of north-south migration in Nigeria.
Akinyemi, Temitope Edward.
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As the global community grapples with the reality of climate change, the imperatives of mitigation and adaptation interventions have gained attention across policy circles. While stakeholders draw up policies for combating its effects, academic research on social and political implications of climate change remains controversial and inconclusive. Climate change-conflict linkages in particular, continue to divide pedagogy-driven theoreticians and policy-driven analysts, thereby hampering research-policy transition needed for effective interventions. Despite lingering controversies however, studies on environment-security linkages in poor nations suggest climate-induced constriction as an important factor particularly in renewable natural resource-related conflicts. In Nigeria, increasing incidence of farmer-herder conflict in host communities has been linked to climate change-induced ecological declines especially in the country’s arid northern region experiencing Sahelian drought and desertification that is identified as a major factor in environmental scarcity and migratory adaptation. The resulting competition for scarcer natural resources, studies suggest, often conflates with socio-contextual factors in compounding human security challenges especially in migrant host communities. Current debate on the climate-conflict discourse consists of three contentious perspectives: rebuttal, association, and affirmation. Meta-theoretical critiques spurred by these contentions suggest contextualized analyses as panacea for evolving policy-relevant discourse. Adopting the contextualization paradigm, this study examined environmental and socio-contextual factors in farmer-herder conflict transformation in Nigeria. It relied on Nvivo-assisted qualitative analysis of 117 in-depth interviews; combined with 10 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) conducted across host communities in Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara and Nasarawa states. The study found that climate change has aggravated livelihood constrictions and migratory adaptation thereby heightening agro-cultural, economic and social contestations which accounts for increasing incidence of resource competition and violent conflicts in Nigeria. It therefore recommends contextually-grounded impact assessment among other reform measures, towards enhancing conflict-sensitive climate change adaptation and policy interventions.
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