Where drought has caused bloodshed
Climate change has sparked a bloody conflict in southeastern Nigeria, said Chiagozie Udeh. For the past three years, Fulani herders, who normally move just a bit southward in the winter to graze their animals, have drastically altered their migration. Because of “expansive desertification, drought, and unchecked deforestation in northern Nigeria,” these nomadic tribespeople have been forced to search for foliage and water farther south in territories where they normally don’t venture. But subsistence farmers in those areas accuse the herders of “wanton destruction of their crops,” and hundreds have been killed in the ensuing clashes. Nigerian states have banned open-field grazing, but the herdsmen, desperate to feed their cattle and goats, ignore the law. With millions of people being displaced from increasingly arid northern Nigeria, the government must take action to resettle these climate refugees peacefully. It’s time for Nigeria to start encouraging cattle ranching instead of nomadic grazing—by offering federal grants for land and access to high-yield grasses that will allow animals to be raised year after year in the same fields. The nomadic way of life can’t be sustained when it encroaches on others’ livelihoods. The climate is changing—Nigerians will have to change with it.