Mercy Corps: Conflict Between Nigerian Rural Communities Takes Enormous Economic Toll

Share Article

New research finds violent conflict in Nigeria costs the country nearly $14 billion annually in economic progress

Photo Credit: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

“We found that the average household affected by conflict today could see income increase by at least 64 percent, and potentially 210 percent or higher, if conflicts were resolved.” – Iveta Ouvry, Mercy Corps country director in Nigeria

The growth of Africa's largest economy is being stymied by decades-long disputes between farmers and pastoralists in Nigeria's ethnically and religiously diverse Middle Belt region, according to new research by the global organization Mercy Corps. Nigeria would stand to gain up to US$13.7 billion annually in total macroeconomic progress if peace were maintained in four Middle Belt states alone. Skirmishes between Nigeria's farmers and herders typically arise from disputes over the use of resources such as farmland, grazing areas and water. As conflicts escalate, often along identity lines, they feed into a deadly cycle of retaliation.

"While Boko Haram violence in Northeast Nigeria garners the majority of media attention, the study shows that ongoing, low-level conflict is thwarting the country’s economic development to an enormous extent," says Iveta Ouvry, Mercy Corps country director in Nigeria. “We found that the average household affected by conflict today could see income increase by at least 64 percent, and potentially 210 percent or higher, if conflicts were resolved.”

The Mercy Corps study examines the effects of conflict and potential peace on national and state revenues, as well as on household economics. Based on this research, Mercy Corps urges the Nigerian government and international donors to quickly increase investment to resolve inter-communal clashes and to ensure conflict-management and livelihood-development strategies positively reinforce each other.

"Effective conflict-management programming can yield high financial returns to donors and governments, in amounts that more than cover the cost of the programs," says Ouvry.

Mercy Corps has worked in Nigeria since 2012, supporting communities to resolve conflicts peacefully and strengthen governance systems while connecting people to the resources they need to survive and help their communities thrive. This new Mercy Corps research, part of a conflict-management program funded by the UK Department for International Development, is based on statistical analysis of conflict and revenue data sets, household surveys and interviews conducted in 2014 and focused on the Nigerian states of Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau. Read or download policy papers detailing the costs to the state and households here.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Christy Delafield
Mercy Corps
+1 202-394-1712
Email >

Amy Fairbairn
Mercy Corps
+44 (0)131 662 2378
Email >
Visit website