Climate Change: The Rub on Africa

Climate change is burying millions of people in Sahel and West Africa under piles of conflict, forced migration and limited resources.

According to a study released by the United Nations at the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, titled “Livelihood Security: Climate Change, Migration and Conflict in the Sahel,” the changing climate conditions are affecting the natural resources of 17 West African countries, especially in times of droughts and floods. It notes areas in conflict such as Chad and northern Niger are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change compared with more politically stable areas.

These changes, when combined with population growth and weak governance, will lead to increased competition for freshwater and land among fishermen and farmers, destruction of crops and mark up of food prices, and population displacement and loss of livelihood — situations that are already a reality in West Africa, according to U.N. Environment Program Executive Director Achim Steiner.

Apart from pointing out the glaring effects of climate change in Sahel and West Africa, the study identified climate change “hotspots” in the region that have experienced changing temperature trends over the past 40 years. Some of these so-called hotspots are located in the central part of Sahel, in Niger, Burkina Faso, northern and coastal Ghana, northern Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

The study puts pressure on governments participating in the climate talks in Durban to increase investments in climate change adaptation policies. Steiner said governments should move forward with the Green Climate Fund and support measures in reducing carbon emissions.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.