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Agriculture is the major component of the rural economy in Katsina State. Livestock production is a major component of agricultural activities practised there and is a source of income and a form of security for farmers. Increasing attacks by cattle rustlers have disrupted the stability that had been enjoyed by pastoralists in rural communities within the State. This study, primarily seeks to critically investigate the Impact of cattle rustling and banditry on the livelihoods of pastoral communities in Katsina State. These issues are especially timely, as banditry and herder/farmer conflicts are more frequent, intense, and consequential than ever before. For this study, the respondents that were selected for in-depth study and empirical illustrations includes: the chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) in the state and some elders in the Seven affected LGA in the State. There is growing skepticism over the cruelty in the military approach embarked upon by the current administration in combating cattle rustling, which seems analogous to the intervention used in combating Boko Haram insurgency in the past administration in Nigeria. Therefore, the time is ripe for the government to generate participatory policies whereby consultations should take center stage in finding solutions to cattle rustling and Banditry in the country.


1.1. Background

Many parts of Sub Saharan Africa continue to experience violent conflicts that constrain sustainable food security, livelihoods, and development in the region. These conflicts are many, complex and occur at different levels. They can be inter-ethnic, intra-ethnic, or cross border in nature. Excluding inter-state wars, conflicts in Africa mostly manifest themselves as pastoralist conflicts (cattle raiding or rustling, violent disputes at watering points, etc.), highway banditry, abductions, generalized insecurity and other crimes.1Pastoralists reside in over 21 countries across the African continent. Many of these communities are affected by conflicts, with associated potential impacts on their livelihoods.

Livestock rearing is one of the major components of agricultural activities performed by more than two thirds of the world’s rural populace due to its benefit as a pathway out of poverty.2 Households may sell their livestock and use the proceeds to build or extend their dwellings or acquire capital equipment for farming purposes. Cattle can be perceived as capital assets that provide a form of insurance to poor households that, for various reasons, do not have adequate access to formal financial services.3 Hence, cattle possession plays multiple social, economic and religious roles in pastoral livelihoods, such as providing a regular source of food in the form of milk, meat and blood for household members, cash income to pay for cereals, education, health care and other services. In pastoral communities, Cattle is also essential for payment of dowry, compensation of injured parties during raids, symbol of prosperity and prestige, store of wealth and security against drought, disease and other calamities.

Traditionally, cattle rustling have been driven by criminal intent to expropriate cattle for meat or sale. In the past, rustlers invaded pastoralist communities with arrows and spears, but the practice has now evolved into a pattern of organised crime with immense criminal sophistication, and rustlers have succeeded in building vast networks that cut across different nationalities.4 Cattle theft has been considered to be an unconventional means of primitive accumulation of herds in the contexts of subsistence and commercial pastoralism.5 The incidence of stolen cattle is exacerbated by the great importance attached to cattle in some rural communities and has escalated due to deficiencies of traditional forms of identification to aid in tracking and tracing stolen livestock.6 Cattle rustling is a perennial problem that now disturbs the Nigerian economy. The issue is more alarming in northern rural areas, where cattle’s rearing is a major occupation, and the problem has been complicated by the rising incidence of farmer-herder conflicts.7 Recently, the wave of cattle rustling in Nigeria has taken the form of massive village raids, whereby herding communities are attacked and stolen items go beyond mere livestock. This pattern of attack has recurred throughout the north-central, north-east and north-west geopolitical zones. However, the incidence is most pronounced in the Bauchi, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina States.

The vast majority of the rural populace in Katsina State primarily engages in agricultural production for subsistence and commercial purposes. Livestock production appears to be second to farming in the ranks of agricultural activities pursued in the State, and the common species of livestock reared include cattle, sheep, goats and poultry. In the last decade, the relative normality and stability enjoyed by cattle production in Nigeria was interrupted by a vicious cycle of cattle rustling, which has led to a drastic decline in pastoralist income levels.8

In Katsina State, pastoral communities have involved in conflicts. In the broadest sense, conflict can be defined here forceful interaction as a result of opposing views. As pastoralism revolves around livestock, the conflicts are predominantly about cattle and its related productive assets - water, land and pasture. These resources closely tie conflicts to the violent theft of cattle, referred to as rustling, which are both a contributing factor and an articulation of conflict. On the one hand, raiding leads to distrust between communities which are a prerequisite of conflict.9 On the other hand, communities use raiding to articulate their hostility toward enemy communities.10 Traditionally, cattle raiding often involved small-scale manageable violence and theft of the best cattle or replacement of animals lost during periods of droughts or diseases.

Although violent conflict is one of the greatest challenges that pastoralists have to deal with, its influence on pastoral livelihoods in Kastina State has not been adequately documented. There have been studies e.g. 11 to “Build a community cattle ranch and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology as alternative methods of curtailing cattle rustling in Katsina State”, but it has hardly been possible to analyse the challenges posed by violent conflicts because of the complexity and multidimensional character of the conflicts in the State under study. This study has provided a useful case to examine in depth factors contributing to cattle rustling, issues and priorities for conflict prevention.

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

Pastoral communities in Katsina State have been involved in cattle rustling and banditry for some years. The problem of cattle rustling has also been compounded with other disputes that revolve around ownership of land and resources like water and pasture. Over the years, these pastoralist regions have suffered a series of droughts that have seriously threatened the viability of pastoralism as a way of life.12 These communities have suffered decades of neglect that have deprived them of the education, infrastructure and other prerequisites to the diversification of other livelihood strategies that are not overtly dependent on natural resources. Internal strife and collapse of state control in these areas have enabled the proliferation of small arms that have drastically increased the intensity and impacts of cattle rustling. The peripheries of the counties are poorly policed and provide safe havens for raiders within the state as well as neighboring countries such Niger republic.

Cattle rustling have also visited deep into the emotional and physical status of residents in these areas who have to live with the wounds of terror, torture and rape. The destabilization of livelihoods has also altered the interaction between people and the environment, to the detriment of the latter, and on to economic and social development of residents.13 Cattle rustling and banditry has caused social and economic disruptions and an unprecedented loss of livelihoods for poor men, women and children in the areas. Affected populations have suffered the loss of means of production, assets, and the means to convert their production to income. In addition, a large percentage of the few resources generated are taken up by the purchase of food. Whatever remains is absorbed by conflict related costs such as security and armament, medical care and education owing to the collapse of state provision of these services.14 Of particular interest is the impact of livestock rustling on food security of communities living in area. When animals are stolen, food prices skyrocket, farm and pasturelands are abandoned and communities displaced, hunger and malnutrition especially for the young and the aged becomes a reality. The Nigeria government spends a considerable amount of security and overall budgets trying to bring a semblance of order to conflict prone areas. The dilapidating effect of this budget distortion is traceable to all sectors and areas in the country. To achieve sustainable development in these areas, conflicts must be conclusively managed. It is in the light of the above background that this study sought to establish the impact of cattle rustling and banditry on the livelihoods of people living within the pastoral communities in Katsina State.

1.3 Aims and Objectives

The aim of this study was to assess the Impact of cattle rustling and banditry on the livelihoods of pastoral communities in Katsina State.


        I.            To determine the factors contributing to Cattle rustling in Katsina State.

     II.            To establish the impact of cattle rustling and banditry on livelihoods of pastoralist in the affected Local Government.

  III.            To identify methods that can be employed to curtail cattle rustling and banditry in Katsina State.

1.4 Justification of Study

While consensus exists that cattle rustling as a form of conflict has severe and adverse effects on pastoralists and rural communities, there is a dearth of accurate documentation of the extent and precise nature of these effects, and the causes behind them. The extent of damage to livelihoods, the environment, people and entire country demand that these dynamics be properly understood and documented, as the basis for comprehensive and sustainable solutions to violent conflict in Nigeria. Cattle rustling and banditry is a major issue of concern among pastoralist communities. The increased attraction of national resources to this issue indicates that it is a priority area in government and will be important for the government. The results of this study will provide information, alerts, caution and given advice to civil society, the government and non-governmental organisation working in Katsina State in order to take  necessary precautions to ensure that the problem of cattle rustling and banditry is effectively resolved in the affected communities.

1.5 Scope and Limitations

This scope of this study is limited to the impact of cattle rustling and banditry on the livelihoods of pastoralist communities in Katsina State alone; hence the findings are not generalized to other neighbouring State or Country. The study was limited to identifying causes and extent of cattle rustling and banditry, examining the impact of rustling and methods that can be employed to curtail cattle rustling and banditry in Katsina State. However, to place the study topic within the wider context and also shed more light to the topic of cattle rustling, information from other pastoralist communities especially within the northern region of Nigeria and some African countries was elicited in the literature review. The recommendations from the study will be used to offer resolutions of the conflict in Katsina State as well as bringing further insight on the social, economic and cultural effects of cattle rustling on livelihoods of the communities living in this area. Insecurity in the area was also a hindrance factor to data collection in this study. The methodology employed exposed the researcher at risk of encountering hostile cattle rustlers in the course of the study. There are bandits in the region who attack cars and travelers in pursuit of any valuable possessions. Hence, their hostility stood as a risk to the study.

1.6 Conceptual Clarification

Cattle rustling and banditry are threatening the existence of pastoral communities in Katsina State. This may be caused by a number of factors. With the growth of cattle herds and rise in human population, land resources especially fodder, water and necessary space for husbandry practice are becoming increasingly scarce, leading to intense competition and conflicts.

But, in recent times, banditry has emerged as another important problem. Cattle rustling involve the use of arms to steal households' entire livestock possession, thereby threatening the very existence of the affected households and communities. Conflicts and banditry are closely inter-linked as they are all forms of social insecurity, characterised by weaknesses in the institutional capacity of the State to address the problems of insecurity, joblessness and acute poverty. While conflicts could trigger and cause cattle rustling, incidences of cattle rustling could also trigger and cause violent conflicts between pastoral and farming communities.

The conceptual diagram shows the relationship between causes of cattle rustling/banditry and effects on pastoralist livelihoods.15 In summary, the strongest causes of raiding in Katsina State are drought, poverty, payment of dowry, accumulation of wealth. Some key informants linked these causes to commercialization trends of raiding and political incitement. However, the main effects of conflicts on the pastoralist livelihoods include loss of human lives and injuries, loss of animals, closure of schools and markets, insecurity and distrust among community members.

Figure 1: Relationship between Cattle Rustling/Banditry and pastoralist livelihoods in Katsina State.

1.7 Research Methodology

This is descriptive research. This allowed the researchers to develop the format for data collection from various locations in order to analyse the research objectives. Data was collected from six Local Governments in Katsina State where Cattle thefts mainly occur. The affected LGAs are Sabuwa, Dandume, Danmusa, Safana, Batsari, Faskari and Kankara. Purposive sampling technique was adopted to draw out samples from the communities within the selected LGAs. A guide on the research subject matter was developed to guide researchers in framing their questions during interactions with potential informants. The researcher personally visited these locations to collect data. The informants interviewed included farmers, herders, village heads/chiefs and security agents. The information gathered was analysed qualitatively, generating answers to the research objectives.

In each of the settlements, community leaders were approached to assist in mobilising respondents, and in assigning a community representative who assisted the researcher in reaching out to individual respondents in their homesteads. Interviews were conducted face to face, and with the discussions held in the Hausa Language, but they were recorded in the interview schedule in English.

Data generated from the survey was complemented by extensive desk or literature review on the topics of cattle rustling and rural banditry. The review provided understanding of the global and domestic dynamics of the problem based on existing research knowledge, and from policy oriented conferences and workshops. Media tracking and records of cattle rustling and banditry provided further sources of information. The main limitation of the research methodology lies in the time constraints and the inability of researchers to employ qualitative sources such as focus group discussions and Key Informants Interview (KIs) that would have further enriched findings.

The significance of morals in research cannot be overstressed; data assemblage is focused around the expertise of researcher and this consists of the capability to make inquiries, handle issues being tended to and recognize individual inclination.16 Potential particular inclination recognized was about the contextualization of the research. However, subjecting the research to guidance by senior lecturer coupled with the author’s resoluteness to stay exceptionally objective helped to overcome this. As a process of disposing the problem of plagiarism, all the data utilized was legitimately recognised.

1.8 Conclusion

This chapter has stated the background, research problem, aims and objectives, justification of study, scope and limitations of study, conceptual clarification and methodology of research. The research which is aimed at assessing the impact of cattle rustling and banditry on livelihoods of pastoral communities in Katsina State is a descriptive research which was carried out through a primary and secondary source. Interviews were carried out in the affected communities to accomplish the objectives of the research work which was complemented by extensive desk study. The conceptual clarification as stated by the researcher which shows the relationship between the causes of cattle rustling/banditry and effects on pastoralist livelihoods, gave a clear picture on the causes of cattle rustling in Katsina State.

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