Seeking a return to peaceful coexistence after serious clashes in recent years, two communities from the Tiv and Igede ethnic groups in Nigeria’s Benue State have signed an inclusive accord over the sharing of water, farmland, forests and other resources.

Brokered by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), the Natural Resource Peace Agreement in the Konshisha and Oju also covers the free movement of people in the two local government areas, open access to markets and issues over boundaries from colonial-era maps that have caused friction.

“We commit ourselves to work for peace, to respect one another and engage in a dialogue to collectively find solutions to issues on which our different communities have expressed their concerns,” leaders from the Tiv and Igede groups pledged during sessions convened by HD as part of a major conflict resolution process started in Benue State in 2017.

The accord over access to land and water builds on HD’s first resource-sharing agreement in Nigeria – signed by 22 clans from the Agatu community in February 2022 – and recognises the need to involve women, youth, traditional authorities, religious leaders and development associations in the process.

Communities in the Konshisha and Oju areas have a history of peaceful coexistence but competition over resources, worsened by deforestation and the effects of climate change, led to serious incidents in 1997 and sporadic clashes in 2020 to 2022. The violence killed hundreds of people and disrupted economic and social activities.

In November 2022, the communities mandated HD to develop and host mediation efforts to resolve the conflict from a natural resources and environmental perspective.

As part of their commitment to HD’s dialogue process, the groups agreed to stop hostilities immediately and to abandon unilateral claims to the contested resources.

“What the people of Konshisha and Oju have done is remarkable. Their steadfastness warrants full support from all stakeholders in implementing this agreement and guaranteeing that it results in long-term peace,” said Babatunde Afolabi, HD’s Regional Director for Anglophone and Lusophone Africa.

“HD stands ready to continue helping these communities and others in Nigeria who want to pursue dialogue to ensure that water, land and other precious resources are shared peacefully.”

Other positive results of HD’s mediation and peacemaking work in various areas of Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy and most populous country – include three major intercommunal agreements in 2015 and 2016, a landmark social media peace accord in 2021 in Plateau State and the February 2022 Agatu peace agreement over the sharing of natural resources.

Active across Africa, the Middle East, Eurasia, Asia and Latin America, HD is the leading international private diplomacy organisation working to prevent and resolve armed conflicts through dialogue and mediation.