Right at the start of this year (it feels so long ago already), I was in northwest Nigeria. I had been wanting to go there for a long time. Elsewhere in Nigeria we had been hearing about violence in the region, particularly in Zamfara state, but it was very difficult to know exactly what was happening particularly as there were few reliable sources of information. I spent the better part of a month in Zamfara, visiting many of its local government areas and speaking with 80 people including government officials, security agents, people working of NGOs and UN agencies. Crucially, over half of the people I spoke with were living through the conflict, including those who had taken part in the fighting on all sides. Here is an overview:
Zamfara state in northwest Nigeria has seen high levels of violent conflict yet conflict dynamics are little studied and understood. This analysis fills this gap and answers the following six questions, integrating analysis on age, gender and disability throughout:
1. What are the root causes of violence and insecurity? What are the key grievances held by different groups and how do they manifest in violent and non-violent ways?
2. What is the impact of violence and security on people (differentiated according to age, disability and gender)?
3. What are the gender dynamics around conflict and how do gender norms and realities drive violence and/ or peace?
4. What are the factors (including government, security force and community action) bringing people together and/ or promoting peace and stability?
5. Who are the key actors with influence, means and motivations to mobilise groups and resources into collective action for peace or for violence and what are links between them?
6. What are the potential trajectories, both positive and negative, around peace and security?
My analysis does its best to integrate analysis around age, gender and disability throughout. Indeed, some of the findings about the scale of sexual violence, the contribution of gender norms to driving conflict and violence, and the experiences of people with disabilities have not been really properly documented elsewhere.