Climate change effects on nomadic pastoralist societies in Africa, and How it force them into serious migration & the search for animal Food,and new environment


Nomadic or mobile pastoralism has long been a sustainable livelihood in a diverse range of countries because of herders’ ability to move and manage risk in marginal landscapes where domesticated animals efficiently convert limited ecological productivity into sustenance. However, today pastoralism is being seriously affected by new environmental and social forces exemplified by climate change and government policy restricting movement and other practices.

Climate change in recent time has acquired global currency as never before. In fact, its ramifications, as well as its problems and consequences are well known, relatively unknown is its tendency to precipitate violent conflict

Changing climates have a significant influence on pastoralists who pursue environmentally dependent livelihoods. In harsh hot or cold landscapes the ability to obtain adequate fodder to fatten animals is the endemic challenge. Shifts in weather patterns, seasonality of precipitation and recharge of sub-surface water sources are vital to the viability of herding. In Oman, a 0.6°C annual temperature increase and 21% decrease in precipitation from 1990 to 2008 have intensified water scarcity and increased evapotranspiration in the pastoral interior of the country, resulting in catastrophic storm episodes and reduced ecological productivity. Infrastructure related to extractive industry has also restricted movement and access to water. Mongolia meanwhile has experienced a 2°C warming trend since 1940, recurrent drought, changes in precipitation and in seasonality and reduced water sources. The detrimental impact of a changing climate manifests in the resultant rural poverty and out-migration to cities.

Perfectly speaking, Climate change is expected to bring about significant changes in migration patterns throughout the developing world. Increases in the frequency and severity of chronic environmental hazards and sudden onset disasters are projected to alter the typical migration patterns of communities and entire countries.

Climate scientists have attributed both the increasing frequency of specific extreme weather events (such as drought, flooding, and heat shocks) and the slow but steady change in long-term features of the environment (such as receding glaciers and melting permafrost) to rising temperatures caused predominantly by anthropogenic (i.e. human) sources. They predict that these, and other, observed climate changes will become more severe in coming years.

These changes in the climate are imposing an increasing burden on governments, especially in countries with limited resources, in their efforts to protect vulnerable populations and realize human rights. Changing precipitation patterns such as drought, and shorter but more intense rainfall, can have negative direct and indirect impacts on health and contribute to desertification and flooding, food insecurity, migration and increased conflict. Indigenous populations, poor and socially marginalized individuals, women, and people with disabilities, are often most affected.

Nigeria is experiencing adverse climate conditions with negative impacts on the welfare of millions of people. Persistent droughts and flooding, off season rains and dry spells have sent growing seasons out of orbit, on a country dependent on a rain fed agriculture. Alarm bells are ringing with lakes drying up and a reduction in river flow in the arid and semi arid region. The result is fewer water supplies for use in agriculture, hydro power generation and other users. The main suspect for all this havoc is Climate Change. Scientific studies show snows are disappearing rapidly.



Thus, while scholars have seriously looked at farmer-herdsmen conflict in Nigeria through the prism of resource scarcity and the quantity and quality of resources available to these two groups, they are yet to see the role that climate change play in this type of conflict. Further, the history and ramifications of conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, as well as its consequences, are well-known. Relatively unknown is how climate change precipitates conflict in Nigeria between these two groups. This is because studies focus on the immediate cause(s) with little or no thought to the remote cause(s).


Research indicate that ,there are so many factors that were responsible for pastoralist migration apart from climate change, and these includes,

Disaster, disasters vary considerably in their potential to instigate migration. Moreover, individual, community and national vulnerabilities shape responses as much as disaster effects do. Focussing on how people are vulnerable as a function of political, economic and social forces leads to an in-depth understanding of post-disaster human security.


Secondly , individuals and communities in the developing world incorporate environmental risk into their livelihoods. Their ability to do so effectively is contingent upon their available assets. Diversifying income streams is the predominant avenue through which people mitigate increased hazards from climate changes. Labour migration to rural and urban areas is a common component of diversified local economies. In lesser developed countries, labour migration is typically internal, temporary and circular.


Third, during periods of chronic environmental degradation, such as increased soil salinization or land degradation, the most common responses by individuals and communities is to intensify labour migration patterns. By doing so, families increase remittances and lessen immediate burdens to provide.


Fourth, with the onset of a sudden disaster or the continued presence of a chronic disaster (i.e. drought or famine), communities engage in distress migration patterns. The characteristics of distress migration are quite different within and across countries as they are shaped by the severity and geography of a crisis, the ability of a household to respond, evacuation opportunities, existing and perpetuating vulnerabilities, available relief, and intervening government policies.


Fifth, as environmental migration is typically internal and short term, the potential for instigating conflict is quite minimal. However, unstable urban and rural demographics are related to higher risks of civil war and low level communal conflicts during periods of environmental stress are common.



As a result of climate change, seas have dried up leading to shortage of fish and fresh water. Drought and desertification have also eaten up crop lands and forest thereby making these environmental resources that trigger violence in short supply.


Indeed ,It is fundamental to state that one basic feature of Fulani herdsmen is migration and at the heart of migration is climate change


It must be noted that ,Natural resource scarcity is the immediate cause of Fulani herdsmen-farmer conflict while climate change constitutes the remote cause. This is because drought, feed and water shortages caused partly by desertification and drought have sent nomadic pastoralists, most of them ethnic Fulanis, wandering outside their normal grazing routes.


Nigeria as a country should invest more in combating climate change; climate adaptability; agricultural and climatologic research should be enhanced to combat desert encroachment, and in the long run reduce inherent conflicts.


we argued that much as we believe that the immediate cause of Fulani herdsmen and farmer conflict in northern Nigeria is natural resource scarcity that the remote cause is climate change which has through drought and desertification led to the worsening incidence of natural resource scarcity and worsen conflict between the two.


Our position is that since climate change has come to stay, it is important for government to put more machinery on ground particularly in the north because over 70 percent of the nation’s food crop comes from the region by encouraging climate change mitigation and adaptation. Further, climatologic research should be enhanced to combat desert encroachment, and in the long run reduce inherent conflicts.



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