Journal Article

Linguistic diversity, climate shock, and farmers-herder conflicts: Implications for inclusive innovations for agro-pastoralism systems

In Africa, farmer-herder conflicts can be partially attributed to linguistic differences that impede communication and conflict resolution. This tension can be further amplified by climatic shocks that increase incentives to fight for resources. Yet existing innovations and interventions in the agro-pastoralism system that aim to de-escalate farmer-herder conflicts often do not account for the interactive effect of linguistic diversity and climate shocks in affecting farmer-herder conflicts. Our objective is to assess the interactive effect of climate shocks and linguistic diversity on intensifying farmer-herder conflicts in multiple African countries. We also examine the implications on enabling linguistically inclusive innovations for agro-pastoralism system transformation in the face of climate shocks. We employ a Spatial Difference-in-Discontinuities design to causally assess the impact of linguistic diversity and its interaction with climate extremes in affecting farmer-herder conflict. We use month-district panel data between 2010 and 2023 for six African countries. The conflict data is obtained from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Climatic shocks are calculated from the Standardized Precipitation Index. Estimation results are then combined with drought projections to examine the spatially heterogeneous evolution of climate-related farmer-herder conflicts in the future. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS Farmer-herder conflicts are systematically more fatal in mixed-language districts compared to single-language districts. The fatality rate increases significantly when drought occurs in mixed-language districts. The differential starting value of conflict fatalities and the future drought may result in strikingly different trends in conflict fatality across districts in the future. Our findings suggest that building linguistically inclusive innovations in agro-pastoralism systems may contribute to de-escalating climate-related farmer-herder conflicts and mitigate the repercussions on rural livelihoods. Linguistic diversity ought to be assessed and used by donors and practitioners, to develop innovative solutions that foster communication and conflict resolution.