Kaduna State is located in northern Nigeria. Much like the country as a whole, northern Kaduna is predominantly Muslim and the south is mostly Christian. While these divisions have occasionally been the cause of conflict when translated into the political arena (such as during the electoral violence that followed the 2011 presidential elections), it is periodical competition for resources between farmers and pastoralists, and the historic grievances associated with such competition, that is the key driver of low-intensity conflict in Kaduna State.1 A series of 20 initiatives to end the cycle of violence dating back to 1979 have attempted but ultimately failed to achieve their aims.
The 2015 presidential election proceeded peacefully thanks to a concerted and widespread effort to ensure that it was the first peaceful and constitutional transition of power in Nigerian history. During the contest, the issue of armed conflict rose to the fore of domestic politics. In Kaduna State, the newly elected governor established a committee under the chairmanship of a retired general to investigate the cause of the conflict upon taking office after pledging to address the issue in his campaign. Building on this framework, the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) facilitated a six-month inter-communal dialogue process, bringing in representatives of 29 communities from 5 local government areas identified as potential conflict flashpoints. Each community contributed six delegates (representing a development/cultural association, traditional council, youth, women, religious groups, and a prominent public figure) to the process. These delegates served in joint working groups facilitated by HD and attended by local, state, and federal government representatives.2 The inter-communal dialogue culminated on 23 March 2016 with the signing of the Kafanchan Peace Declaration and the Kafanchan Women Peace Declaration.3 The documents committed the farmers and pastoralists to resolving any future disputes between them peacefully, called for resources to be shared, and committed the communities to cooperate on the economic development of the area. A further provision established a monitoring committee to oversee implementation and adherence. HD supported the establishment of a Conflict Early Warning Response System for southern Kaduna, as well as a local institution known as the Kafanchan Peace Development Initiative, which was tasked with building a lasting peace in the area.5 In 2017, the ongoing effort to reduce armed conflict across Kaduna was taken up by the Kaduna State Peace Commission.5 Although armed conflict continues (in 2021, Kaduna suffered the most political violence of any Nigerian state other than Borno, the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency), the efforts of local people and organisations supported by HD demonstrably reduced armed conflict between communities in southern Kaduna State.6