Years ago, Mohamed’s family had enough to eat, despite being poor. His daughter owned a vegetable stall at a bustling market in northeastern Nigeria. The family had options: during the dry season, when Lake Chad was shallow, Mohamed could farm; and during the wet season, he could fish or graze his cattle. But then things began to change.
In recent years, conflict between herders and farmers for access to increasingly scarce natural resources in Africa’s Sudano-Sahel has escalated. While the problems fueling these tensions are both hyper-local and transnational in nature, one important piece of the puzzle has been overlooked. The real “elephant in the room” is who owns the livestock.
The Lake Chad Basin is currently suffering one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises with approximately 10.7 million people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. Over the past two years a team of experts led by adelphi has been conducting an assesment of the climate and fragility risks affecting the region in order to identify responses which can address the linked causes and drivers of the crisis.
In “Africa’s smallest war,” both Kenya and Uganda lay claim to Migingo Island, a tiny island in the waters of Lake Victoria. While the claims are over the island, the conflict is about something else entirely: Lates niloticus, also known as Nile perch, a tasty white fish that swims in the waters surrounding the island. The fish forms the backbone of the Lake Victoria economy but is increasingly hard to come by along the lakeshore. Catches are in decline, incomes are dropping, and the Ugandan government is taking increasingly harsh, militarized steps to help revive the fishery. Who is to blame?
Nigeria’s central Middle Belt region is home to a diverse cultural population of semi-nomadic cattle herders and farming communities. For decades, the region has experienced increasingly violent attacks that have been partially attributed to direct competition over access and use of natural resources.
Human activity has caused the temperature of the Earth and its atmosphere to rise by about 1°C above pre-industrial levels, triggering fundamental changes to the planet’s physical and social landscapes. On 8 October an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that temperatures were rising faster than expected, and that 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels could occur as early as 2030.
“In the last decade, almost half of Africa’s elephants have been killed for their ivory, and some experts are predicting that both elephants and rhinoceros will be extinct by 2030,” said Nancy Lindborg, President of the U.S. Institute of Peace at a recent event on wildlife poaching and trafficking. The illegal trade in protected wildlife is worth US$7-10 billion—some of which has ended up in the pockets of armed groups like Al-Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army, said Lindborg.
Peat areas have played a pivotal role in conflicts globally, and have also been a point of contention during post-conflict recovery. Communities in Southeast Asia as well as in the countries of the Congo are facing challenges as finding political solutions for this problem.
Liberia’s largest palm oil producer, Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) pulls out of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) – how can rural communities cope with the impacts? The forests near GVL’s Liberian plantations are not only sacred sites of the region's people but also heavily populated with chimpanzees, leopards, pygmy hippopotamus and forest elephants which are significant not only to the local ecosystem but globally.
The High Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region will be held in Berlin at the German Federal Foreign Office from 3 to 4 September 2018. Germany will be co-hosting the event with Nigeria, Norway and the United Nations.
Both those who argue for and those who refute climate-conflict links draw on Darfur to support their case. New analysis of political bias behind the environmental narratives and their critiques adds much-needed nuance to our understanding of when drought is – and is not – relevant to the conflict.
The Lake Chad Basin is afflicted with a multidimensional crisis, which contributing factors range from deeply-entrenched regional hostilities to environmental degradation. The vulnerability of livelihood systems to changing climate patterns adds to the security pressures by exposing local populations to intimidation and recruitment by radical groups. Anja Stache, Programme Coordinator at GIZ, explains how the German development agency helps strengthen resilience by introducing climate-smart seeds.
Cape Town is dealing with one of the biggest climate change-linked water crises to face a modern city. This should serve as our wake-up call: we must transition to a new, shared way of organising around increasingly stretched resources, writes Leonie Joubert.
The UN Security Council has identified climate change as a driver of conflict across West Africa and the Sahel, in a statement published last Tuesday.
The Lake Chad region experiences a multitude of crises: lack of employment and education opportunities, resource scarcity and violent conflict, all exacerbated by the effects of climate change, making the Lake Chad region Africa’s largest humanitarian emergency. At the margins of the Planetary Security Conference 2017, we spoke with the independent conflict adviser Chitra Nagarajan about the region’s future.