Over the past decade, Nigeria’s ethnically and religiously diverse Middle Belt has experienced recurrent eruptions of violence, much of which stems from conflicts over shared resources between farmer and pastoralist communities. These conflicts, which often include the destruction of property, crops, and livestock resources, directly undermine market development and hinder economic growth. From December 2012 to December 2016, Mercy Corps implemented the Community-Based Conflict Management and Cooperative Use of Resources (CONCUR) program, a four-year DFID funded program with the goal of reducing conflicts between pastoralists and farmer community groups and increasing local economic activities in four Middle Belt states. Based on three underlying theories of change, Mercy Corps’ approach integrated conflict mitigation and joint economic projects to address the underlying drivers of conflict, while providing tangible development results to communities to guarantee their commitment and engagement. As a result of our efforts we found:
- In CONCUR sites, 86% of households reported decreased tensions compared to 56% in comparison sites, a 43 percentage point difference.
- CONCUR sites showed an improvement of 49 percentages points of increased trust between conflicting groups.
- Households in CONCUR sites had a 44 percentage point increase in freedom of movement compared to comparison sites.
- CONCUR households were 47 percentage points more likely to report that conflict did not affect their livelihoods than the comparison communities.
This program illustrates the importance of investing in conflict management and social cohesion to improve security in these areas.