Herdsmen on the Move: The Burdens of Climate Change and Environmental Migration in Nigeria

  • Toyib AremuEmail author
  • Praise Abraham
Reference work entry


The changes occurring in the climate, such as rainfall pattern change, can induce human (and animal) migration as a form of adaptive strategy especially by families that are agricultural or natural-resources dependent. Climate change is a global concern now that different countries including Nigeria are living in the reality of its impacts. These impacts are felt more in northern Nigeria (the arid region) where there is an evident ecological decline resulting in drought and desertification. Herders from this region, who are predominantly into cattle rearing as a source of wealth and livelihood, are forced to embark on a north–south migration in response to drought and unavailability of forage and water to feed their cows. Often, however, this change of environment is characterized by conflicts between migrating herdsmen and receiving communities for various reasons including competition emanating from scarcity of natural resources. This review is relevant at this time of a national debate in Nigeria on finding the right policies to abate the continuous clashes between herdsmen and farmers. The paper assesses migration in the context of climate change, the challenges associated with migration of herdsmen, the mutual cooperation that existed between herdsmen and farmers, and the conflict that now characterize their relationship.


Environmental migration Climate change Natural resources Conflict Herdsmen Farmers Nigeria 


  1. Aaron S (2011) Climate change adaptation and conflict in Nigeria: special report. United States Institute of Peace, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  2. Adamu A, Ben A (2017) Nigeria: Benue State under the shadow of “herdsmen terrorism” (2014–2016). World Watch Research and Voice of Martyrs CanadaGoogle Scholar
  3. Awogbade MO (1983) Fulani pastoralism: Jos case study. Ahmadu Bello Press, ZariaGoogle Scholar
  4. Bates DC (2002) Environmental refugees? Classifying human migrations caused by environmental changes. Popul Environ 23(5):465–477. Available online at
  5. Blench R (2000) Extensive pastoral livestock systems: Issues and options for the future. ODI, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. BNRCC (Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change) (2011) National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change for Nigeria (NASPA-CCN).
  7. Brown O (2007) Climate change and forced migration: observations, projections and implications. UNDP, WinnipegGoogle Scholar
  8. Burton G (2016) Background report: the Fulani Herdsmen. Project Cyma Publication. pp 1–18Google Scholar
  9. De Haan L J (1998) Gestion de terrroir at the frontier: village land management of peasants and pastoralists. In Beninin Bruins HJ and Lithwick H (eds) The Arid Frontier: Interactive Management of Environment and Development. Dordrecht and Boston: Kluwer Academic PublisherGoogle Scholar
  10. Egeru A (2012) Role of indigenous knowledge in climate change adaptation: a case study of the Teso Sub-region, Eastern Ugandan. Int J Trad Knowl 11(2):217–224Google Scholar
  11. Emmanuel A (2017) Farmer-Herder conflict in Africa: an assessment of the causes and effects of the sedentary Farmers-Fulani Herdsmen conflict. A case study of the Agogo traditional area, Ashanti region of GhanaGoogle Scholar
  12. Frerks G (2007) Linking environment and conflict: building block for a knowledge, innovation and research strategy. The hague: prepare for the Buza-NOW Workshop on Conflict and Natural ResourcesGoogle Scholar
  13. Hendrix CS, Salehyan I (2012) Climate change, rainfall and social conflict in Africa. J Peace Res 49(1):35–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Holdren JP (2010) Climate-change science and policy: what do we know? What should we do? Keynote Address, Kalvi Prize Science Forum, International Cooperation in Science, Oslo, September 6Google Scholar
  15. Hussein K (1998) Conflict between farmers and herders in the semi-arid Sahel and East Africa: A review. Pastoral Land Tenure Series No. 10. Drylands Programme. International Institute for Environment and Development & Overseas Development Group. LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Idowu AA, Ayoola SO, Opele AI, Ikenweiwe NB (2011) Impact of climate change in Nigeria. Iran J Energy Environ 2(2):145–152. ISSN 2079-2115Google Scholar
  17. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (2003) Climate change 2003: synthesis report. A contribution of Working Groups I, II, and III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  18. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007) Climate change 2007. The fourth assessment Report (AR4). Synthesis report for PolicymakersGoogle Scholar
  19. John M, Ronald A, Abdul-Rahim A (2016) Governing interests of Fulani herdsmen and peasant farmers in natural resources in the Asante Akim North District of Ghana. Adv Soc Sci Res J 3(10).
  20. Kunz EF (1973) The refugee in flight: Kinetic models and forms of displacement. International Migration Review 7. SummerCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Macchi M, Oviedo G (2008) Indigenous and traditional peoples and climate change: Issues Paper. International Union for Conservation of NatureGoogle Scholar
  22. Magnus TO, Gleditsch NP, Buhaug H (2013) Is climate change a driver of armed conflict. Clim Chang 117(3):613–625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Msuya DG (2015) Pastoralism beyond ranching: a farming system in severe stress in semi-arid Tropics especially in Africa. J Agric Ecol Res Int 4(3):128–139. Scholar
  24. Odoh SI, Chigozie CF (2012) Climate change and conflict in Nigeria: a theoretical and empirical examination of the worsening incidence of conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Northern Nigeria. Arabian J Bus Manag Rev 2(1):110–124Google Scholar
  25. Ogbo A, Lauretta NE, Ukpere W (2013) Risk management and challenges of climate change in Nigeria. J Hum Ecol 41(3):221–235. Scholar
  26. Oiarzabal PJ, Reips UD (2012) Migration and diaspora in the age of information and communication technologies. J Ethn Migr Stud 38(9):1333–1338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Olakunle MF, Adejoke OF (2013) Climate change and inter-ethnic conflict in Nigeria. Peace Rev: J Soc Just 25:104–110. Scholar
  28. Olaniyi OA, Funmilayo OA, Olutimehin IO (2014) Review of climate change and its effect on Nigeria ecosystem. Int J Environ Pollut Res 2(3):70–81Google Scholar
  29. Oli NP, Ibekwe CC, Nwankwo IU (2017) Prevalence of herdsmen and farmers conflicts in Nigeria. Int J Innov Stud Sociol Humanit 3(2):30–39Google Scholar
  30. Peter AO (2010) General overview of climate change impacts in Nigeria. J Hum Ecol 29(1):47–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Robinson JB, Herbert D (2001) Integrating climate change and sustainable development. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues 1(2):130–149. Scholar
  32. Shettima AG, Tar UA (2008) Farmer-pastoralist conflict in West Africa: exploring the causes and consequences. Inform Soc Justice 1(2):163–184. Scholar
  33. Tolba MK (1989) Our biological heritage under siege. Bioscience 39:725–728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Toulmin C (1983) Herders and Farmers or Farmer-herders and Herder-farmers? ODI pastoral development network paper 15d. ODI, LondonGoogle Scholar
  35. Traore (1996) Problems in Pastoral land management related to tenure: policies versus basic practice. In: GRET and IIED (eds) Managing Land Tenure and resource access in West Africa. Proceedings of a Workshop held in Goree, SenegalGoogle Scholar
  36. Ubelejit NT (2016) Fulani herdsmen and communal conflicts: climate change as precipitator. J Polit Sci Leadersh Res 2(1)Google Scholar
  37. Ute TU (2016) Fulani herdsmen and communal conflicts: climate change as precipitator. J Polit Sci Leadersh Res 2(1):26–32Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sustainability, Centre for Sustainable DevelopmentUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria
  2. 2.Department of Social Sustainability, Centre for Sustainable DevelopmentUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria

Personalised recommendations