Rapid population growth can impede efforts to combat poverty, particularly in places where environmental disasters and climate changes damage livelihoods. Lesotho is an example of how fragile the future seems for Africa, large parts of which face the prospect of new famine and, in consequence, further catastrophic displacement within and among their growing populations.
At the 2017 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development from 3 - 4 May, adelphi, in partnership with SIPRI and SEI, convened two sessions on climate change and fragility risks in the Lake Chad region, to discuss the different approaches and next steps for building resilience.
FAO warns that without urgent intervention, 20 million people will starve to death over the next six months in South Sudan, Somalia, north-eastern Nigeria and Yemen. UNICEF reports that 22 million children across these countries “are hungry, sick, displaced and out of school,” mainly because of conflict. Climate change and water insecurity are major challenges to ending hunger and achieving sustainable agriculture, outside of conflict, a primary driver.
Multiple stressors converge on the Lake Chad region. Unemployment, depleting resources, poverty and conflict interact with climate change. Prolonged severe droughts have contributed to a massive shrinking of Lake Chad, a main source of livelihood for millions of inhabitants. The resulting livelihood insecurity and extreme poverty has exacerbated tensions between pastoralists, farmers and fishers. This contributes to the increased risk of recruitment by non-state armed groups such as Boko Haram, engagement in illicit employment, armed conflict and major internal as well as cross-border displacement...
Cities are already facing the brunt of a range of interacting risks from criminal violence, terrorism and war to demographic pressures, to climate and environmental change. Coastal megacities are especially at risk given the specific impacts of climate change they face, such as sea-level rise, increased storm frequency and severity, and destruction to infrastructure such as ports, rail and road networks. These risks are amplified as urban populations become ever larger.
In an article recently published in Regional Environmental Change, Uche Okpara, Lindsay Stringer, and Andrews Dougill discuss the development and application of a climate-water conflict vulnerability index to assess communities along the southeastern shores of Lake Chad in the Republic of Congo.
Cities are on the sharp end of a range of risks from criminal violence, terrorism and war to demographic pressures, to climate and environmental change. Coastal megacities are especially at risk given the specific impacts of climate change they face, including accelerated global sea-level rise, increased storm frequency and severity, and destruction to critical infrastructure such as port facilities, rail and road linkages, and energy installations, all of which are amplified as urban populations become ever larger.
Climate change and violent extremism will be two of the major threats to the stability of states and societies in the next decades. In many African countries climate change has significantly increased instability by over-stretching the already limited capacity of governments to respond. UNDP Team Leader Aliou M. Dia shares his insights from West Africa and argues that one has to ensure that violence and conflict prevention measures are fully integrated in climate change adaptation plans and programmes.
The world dismisses them as economic migrants. The law treats them as criminals who show up at a nation’s borders uninvited. Prayers alone protect them on the journey across the merciless Sahara. But peel back the layers of their stories and you find a complex bundle of trouble and want that prompts the men and boys of West Africa to leave home, endure beatings and bribes, board a smuggler’s pickup truck and try to make a living far, far away. They do it because the rains have become so fickle, the days measurably hotter, the droughts more frequent and more fierce, making it impossible to grow enough food on their land.
"Land degradation is a root cause of migration and a trigger of conflicts", says Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. In the interview, she explains the links between environmental change and violent conflict in Africa. Concrete examples such as the "Great Green Wall" raise hope that conflicts over scarce resources can be successfully addressed and that degraded landscapes can be restored through collaborative efforts.
How to deal with the impact of climate change on peace and stability? What are the key climate-fragility risks to development in Africa and how can integrated policy responses be designed and implemented? Two side events at COP22 discussed entry points for addressing climate-security risks on the ground.