While attention in the United States is focused on the disasters in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, a crisis across the Atlantic is rapidly becoming one of the worst humanitarian disasters since World War II. In the Lake Chad basin of West Africa, about 17 million people are threatened by extreme food insecurity and widespread violence.
Climate change is feeding poverty, instability, hunger and violence in the Lake Chad basin.
A racially-charged conflict between private landowners and nomadic herders in the drought-stricken county of Laikipia, Kenya, has spread to affect indigenous forest-dwellers. Water shortage is driving Maasai pastoralists to roam further in search of pasture for their flocks, encroaching on land managed for tourism and ranching primarily by white settlers. In recent months, they have also entered Mukogodo Forest, home to the Yaaku people, cutting down trees to feed livestock.
The war in Darfur, Sudan, is frequently cited as a classic example of a 'climate conflict’. In North Darfur, a project of UN Environment and its partners has now won the Land for Life Award. The project seeks solutions to address climate-fragility risks through the sustainable management of dryland areas, improving food security and increasing disaster resilience in communities which livelihoods are directly affected by climate change.
Of the 186 countries assessed in a recent survey of climate vulnerability, Chad was rated most in peril. A combination of high poverty, frequent conflicts, and the risk of both droughts and floods means the central African nation is bottom of the list, just below Bangladesh and some way behind Norway, the country least vulnerable to climate change.