- Title: Conflict and climate change forcing millions in spiral of poverty
- Date: 9th July 2020
- Summary: OUALAM, NIGER (FILE - 2018) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF NIGER SOLDIERS DURING FLINTLOCK TRAINING EXERCISES SOLDIERS CROUCHING IN LINE TRAINING JUST OUTSIDE BAMAKO, MALI (FILE - 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE DISPLACED BY FIGHTING AND VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL MALI IN CAMP WITH MAKESHIFT HUTS COVERED IN BLUE PLASTIC
- Embargoed: 23rd July 2020 11:02
- Keywords: ICRC climate change conflict countries vulnerable to climate change sahel
- Location: TILABERI, OUALAM AND DIFFA, NIGER/ OGASSOU, MOPTI, NEAR BAMAKO, MALI/ GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: TILABERI, OUALAM AND DIFFA, NIGER/ OGASSOU, MOPTI, NEAR BAMAKO, MALI/ GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Niger
- Topics: Climate Change,Climate Policy and Regulation
- Reuters ID: LVA005CM36TZR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Climate change, a global pandemic and escalating conflict is hammering the majority of countries affected by the rise in temperature and disrupting programmes to alleviate the effects of desertification and erratic rainfall.
An ICRC report published on Thursday (July 9) says that out of 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change 60% are living in conflict zones. Unless urgent action is taken to mitigate the effects of global warming, the ICRC says, 200 million people will need international humanitarian aid by 2050, double the 2018 figure.
The report focussed on Mali, the Central African Republic and Iraq.
Niger too, which borders with Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria where attacks are spiralling, illustrates the stress on herders who have lost land and access to water, and forced thousands away from their homes in search of better grazing conditions and fleeing violence.
The ICRC carried out an inoculation campaign in February this year in parts of Niger to help herders fight disease and maintain their cattle but violence makes many of these regions inaccessible to those trying to change agricultural methods.
The global pandemic COVID-19 has added one more layer of danger for those distributing aid, assisting the displaced and trying to build climate change resilience.
The ICRC report says one third of the world's cropland has been abandoned in the past 40 years because of erosion. Each year an additional 20 million hectares of agricultural land either becomes too degraded for crop production or is lost to urban sprawl.
It also quotes the United Nations figure that over 50% of the world's population is expected to be living in water-stressed regions by 2050.
"With climate change, you know, there is not enough fodder and the animals are concentrated in just one area" said the head of Niger's Herding Association, Hassoumiou Djibo Diallo.
As the regional head of Niger's pastoral associations, Hassoumiou has spent years calling for better conditions for herding and herders in Niger. He says that the presence of armed groups in the TillabÃ©ri region bordering Burkina Faso and Mali has drastically reduced access to pastureland.
"The animals follow a pattern, pre-defined corridors of transhumance . But because of the current insecurity the animals, the herders rather, try to secure their cattle and as a result the transhumance itineraries and the animals' journey are completely disturbed," said the ICRC's Alioune Somano who helped organise the inoculation in Tilaberi earlier this year.
The ICRC's policy adviser, Catherine Lune Grayson, says climate action is urgently needed in the vulnerable zones where conflict is displacing farmers and herders.
Sixty-year old Nigerian, Herder Boubacar Moukaila, says grazing land in the Tilaberi region is too parched to feed his cattle, half of which he lost to disease. But conflict stops him from moving to more fertile land.
"We're too afraid of getting attacked if we move the herd," he said. "There never used to be any security problems. It was rare to see animals die of hunger."
The United Nations said temperatures in the Sahel are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average and rainfall is erratic and estimates that around 80% of the region's farmland is degraded for the average 50 million people who depend on livestock and compete for land.
The UNHCR last May said 23,000 refugees fled Nigeria to Niger since April because of violence whilst 19,000 Niger nationals have been displaced in their own country fearing insecurity in border areas.
Earlier this month France launched a coalition of West African and European allies to fight jihadi militants in the Sahel region, hoping more political cooperation and special forces would boost a military effort that has so far failed to stifle violence.
Some experts say age-old tensions between farming and herding communities are intensifying because of climate change as the availability of usable land goes down and water sources become less reliable.
But regardless of how much climate change might fuel the violence, what is clear is that communities' survival is that much harder when they are affected by both at once.
"Armed conflict hinders those ways of coping, herders are no longer able to move safely with their cattle, the state's capacity to provide assistance is limited and so is humanitarian access . Herders are forced to concentrate around water points, some have to sell their livestock at discounted prices as they cannot travel to livestock markets far away and some, who have lost everything, end up moving into urban centres or greener areas. An already poor population becomes even poorer," said Grayson
The ICRC says today, local and international NGO are already unable to meet humanitarian requirements. They will not be able to address the exponentially growing needs resulting from unmitigated climate change. Climate risks can lead to development reversals and systemic breakdown, particularly in fragile/conflict-affected States.
They are calling for urgent action to help fight climate degradation and reach conflict zones to ensure that communities hit hardest get the support they need to adapt.
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