Darfur has been affected by spreading desertification and severe droughts, resulting in diminished land and water resources.
The growing scarcity of resources has forced a large number of northern pastoralist groups to migrate to southern Darfur. The added pressure on pastures has increased resource competition between southern groups such as the Habaniya and Reizegat Baggara.
In 2006, a dispute over grazing land led to several violent clashes between Habaniya and Reizegat Baggara pastoralists, resulting in more than 150 deaths.
In July 2006, a dispute over grazing land led to several violent clashes between Habaniya and Reizegat Baggara pastoralists, resulting in more than 150 deaths (UCDP 2015). Environmentally induced migration from northern pastoralists groups into south Darfur is believed to be an important reason behind this violence. Spreading desertification and severe droughts during the 1980s, have forced a large number of northern Darfurians to move to the southern part of the region.
The influx of pastoralist groups in the south has not only provoked disputes between newcomers and resident groups, but also heavily constrained overall access to pastures, thus increasing resource competition between southern groups such as the Habaniya and Reizegat Baggara. The gradual expansion of agriculture in southern Darfur has further aggravated this situation (Takana 2007; American University 2006).
A further important factor exacerbating these conflicts was the abolishment of the Native Administration system in 1971. In the past the Native Administration managed local land and grazing rights in accordance with customary institutions and helped avoiding conflicts between farmers and herders, as well as between migrants from northern Darfur and local communities in southern Darfur. Because the Sudanese Government presented no viable alternative, the abolishment of this system led to an institutional vacuum, crippling much of the functionality of customary land tenure and conflict mitigation institutions. The Government of Sudan also increasingly managed crises by supporting armed militia groups, thereby aggravating conflicts that could have been resolved in a peaceful manner (de Waal 2007; Unruh & Abdul-Jalil 2012).