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.
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.
The world’s most extensive humanitarian crisis is currently playing out in the Lake Chad region, with some 17 million people affected, and 7 million suffering food insecurity. We spoke with Ambassador Hinrich Thölken, Permanent Representative of Germany to FAO, WFP and IFAD, who travelled to both Nigeria and Chad to gain a better understanding of the different compound pressures.
In March, the Trump Administration released a new budget proposal that would cut funding to the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development by 28 percent. At the same time, the White House considered withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords. Critics both outside the administration and within have pointed to the drawbacks of these moves, but the sum of the policy changes could have an even greater impact than the individual parts.
As the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction soon gets underway, the world is witnessing the highest levels of famine risk in decades. While war and conflict stand as a major root cause of the crisis in the Middle East and Africa, climate change is a key “enhancer” of the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes.