Report: Climate Change Fuels Conflict in Lake Chad Basin

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MOMBASA, Kenya (TBEN) — Drought, floods and a shrinking Lake Chad, caused in part by climate change, are fueling conflict and migration in the region and need to be better addressed, a report said Thursday.

Human rights organization Refugees International called for this issue to be front and center at a high-level international conference on the Lake Chad Basin next week in Niamey, Niger’s capital.

The report found that shrinking natural resources due to bad weather are increasing tensions between communities and driving people to flee. It said about 3 million people are displaced and another 11 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“For too long, not enough attention has been paid to how climate change fuels violence and displacement,” lead author Alexandra Lamarche told The The Bharat Express News. “International responses to the Lake Chad crisis have focused on the presence of armed groups.”

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A 13-year-long insurgency by the extremist group Boko Haram and other militant groups has destabilized the Lake Chad basin and the wider Sahel region. The basin is shared between Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

The Lake Chad region is facing “much more than a climate and environmental crisis,” said Mabingue Ngom, the senior adviser to the executive director of the United Nations Population Organization. “It is a humanitarian issue that touches on peace and regional development.”

The United Nations Weather Bureau warned that the Lake Chad basin is “particularly vulnerable to extreme events related to climate change, such as floods and droughts” and warned that “extreme events are likely to become more frequent, resulting in more frequent droughts and floods , with implications for food security and general security in the region.”

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Lamarche noted that the Logone Birni municipality in northern Cameroon was particularly vulnerable to increased violence as climate change worsens.

“The struggle for access to natural resources (in Logone Birni) forced 60,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring Chad by the end of 2021,” Lamarche said.

The Lake Chad basin in western and central Africa covers 8% of the African continent and is home to 42 million people whose livelihoods revolve around ranching, fishing and farming, according to figures from the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

The UN Environment Agency notes that Lake Chad has shrunk by 90% in 60 years, to which climate change is a major contributor. Irrigation, dam construction and population growth were also to blame.

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A tentative agenda for next week’s summit, seen by The The Bharat Express News, suggests that the “adverse impacts of climate change” will be a part of peacebuilding and humanitarian efforts.

Lamarche said the conference “is the perfect opportunity for international donors to commit to long-term solutions to address the link between climate change, violence and displacement in the region.”

The meeting in Niamey will be the third high-level summit in the lake basin.

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