Building Climate and Conflict Resilient Communities will establish community-based systems to bring herders, farmers, women, youth, and government and security actors together to anticipate climate-related conflict drivers and proactively prevent farmer-herder conflict. It is a collaboration of Karuna Center, Neem Foundation (based in Nigeria), and l’Association Coexister (in Benin).
About the Program
Building Climate and Conflict Resilient Communities (BCCRC) is a new initiative that addresses the significant impact that climate change is having on people in the Sahel region of Africa—focusing on the seasonal routes where nomadic Fulani cattle herders cross from Niger into Benin. Launched in October 2023, this project will pilot an innovative approach using climate data as part of its work to engage impacted communities in preventing violent conflict.
This initiative builds on the work of Karuna Center and Neem Foundation in Nigeria, with the addition of a third key partner, the Benin-based organization Association Coexister. Drawing on the lessons learned from the Protecting Our Communities Initiative, BCCRC will facilitate community resilience in addressing violence by improving trust and collaboration between farmers, herders, security forces, and government. The project pays special attention to developing understanding with and lifting the voices of Fulani communities who are often marginalized from governance and security processes.
con Because climate change is a direct driver of conflict in the region, this project will work with the project funder and a Karuna climate data coordinator to pilot a novel strategy of providing vital climate-related information directly to farmers and herders. To support local herders and farmers in adapting their land use activities and reducing the potential for conflict, the project will access climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other sources. The data will be disseminated through the project’s WhatsApp groups and local radio shows, providing information on herder movement, route conditions, and security concerns.
As in Nigeria, Karuna Center will train and mentor a diverse cohort of community dialogue facilitators, who will work in teams to build trust and address conflicts across ethnic and religious divides in four core communities in northern Benin near the Niger border. At the same time, the project will engage community leaders in early warning-early response committees that identify the first signs of potential conflict, and coordinate with local leaders and security forces to develop ongoing effective responses to de-escalate tensions. The project will also host a regional forum that brings stakeholders together to plan for collaboration beyond the project’s end.
A key focus on the project is on providing opportunities to rebuild and strengthen trust—which has deteriorated between communities as well as between communities and security forces. This weakened the rule of law, created openings for violent extremist groups to expand their influence, and contributed to growing communal tensions. Furthermore, a lack of inclusive, effective structures to address conflicts and grievances means that the critical role of herders, women, and youth in addressing the crisis is often overlooked. BCCRC will address these gaps and breakdowns in relationships by establishing community-based systems to bring herders, farmers, women, youth, and government and security actors together to anticipate climate-related conflict drivers and proactively prevent farmer-herder conflict. This serves the long-term goal of reducing the risk of farmer-herder conflict amid rapidly changing climate impacts in the region.
The project aims to build trust and social cohesion horizontally and vertically—elevating the voices and concerns of marginalized groups within community dialogues, early warning-response (EWER) committees, and radio programming, and holding meetings and forums that build connections with high-level stakeholders. The project’s innovative, replicable model builds on the Protecting Our Communities Initiative, a collaboration led by Karuna Center and Neem Foundation in Nigeria, and strongly emphasizes strengthening local capacity.
This project is funded by an 18-month grant from US Department of State Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.
photo credits (left to right): Roland Hunker, Ji-Elle, Abby Wendle; CC-BY-SA-4.0