Participants pose for a photo after the dialogue with community and traditional leaders in Makurdi, Benue State (Photo, Rejoice Emmanuel/UNDP Nigeria)

Abuja, 28 June 2019 - As part of efforts aimed at ending the herdsmen-farmers crisis in the middle-belt in Nigeria, the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) has been visiting the country and met with key stakeholders with whom they have discussed the conflict that has continued to affect communities in Benue and Nasarawa states and led to mass displacement of people and loss of hundreds of lives.

During the mission, the UNTFHS led by Ms. Mehrnaz Mostafavi also facilitated a training workshop aimed at equipping implementing partners with the required knowledge and practical skills to apply the human security approach within the context of the country’s middle-belt. The workshop under the theme “Applying the Human Security Approach to Operationalize the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus in Nigeria” held from 24th to 26th of June, 2019.

Participants at the workshop appreciated the important role guaranteed human security plays in fostering socioeconomic development in the country. The visiting team shared insights into the significance of the human security approach as a framework for policy-making in complex development challenges.

While in Markudi, Benue State, the team met with representatives civil society organizations, farmers associations, local and state government representatives, elders, Chiefs, and representatives of local and international non-governmental organizations with whom they exchanged information on key elements of the human security approach which could be employed in promoting dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts, especially between the herdsmen and farmers in the region.

The team was later engaged in a policy dialogue organized by UNDP, in collaboration with UNHCR and FAO. The event, dubbed “Transitioning from humanitarian relief to long-term development: Addressing the herdsmen-farmers conflict in Nigeria” brought together senior UN representatives in the country, experts from national and local governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector, and explored several policy options that could be utilized in finding an end to the conflict in the middle-belt.

Key among the recommendations was the advocacy for comprehensive solutions, preventive and mitigating measures which encompass all key stakeholders are integrated into policy planning and response frameworks thereby strengthening long term resilience and safeguarding sustainable development.

The Policy dialogue also served as a platform to enhance multi-stakeholder partnerships to support implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

“The Human security approach recognizes the full array of challenges that can both propel the devastating force of a crisis and undercut prospects for sustainable peace and development. This essential understanding presents opportunities to complement immediate humanitarian efforts, while helping to shape long-term solutions that put people on the path to towards inclusive and sustainable development.” UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon in his opening statement at the event in Abuja.

Chief of the United Nations Human Security Unit, who is also leading the team, Ms. Mehrnaz Mostafavi noted that the challenges to human security of both farmers and herders and activities are structured around addressing the numerous risks to safeguard livelihoods and promote peace”.

She added that a piecemeal approach will not address the prevalent cycle of violence and multi-faceted nature of the herder-farmer conflict, instead a comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses the root causes of the conflict while reducing the vulnerability of communities to protection risks is required.

This dialogue is the first in a series of consultations for the implementation of UNTFHS programme, a 3-year project being implemented by UNDP, UNHCR and FAO in partnership with Benue and Nasarawa State Governments. The overall goal of the intervention is to contribute to ending the herdsmen-farmers conflict in affected States.

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