Climate security risks in the Lake Chad Basin: Identifying foreign policy responses

Thirsty cows drinking in a water hole near the village of Dagala in Chad and used by nomad tribes. The picture has been taken on 2nd of february 2017.

The Lake Chad region of West Africa is currently facing a major humanitarian crisis. Climate-related security risks, together with conflict are eroding people’s capacity to cope –undermining already strained access to livelihood opportunities. Stabilisation is becoming more challenging, leaving civilians exposed to violence, and more vulnerable to negative coping mechanisms such as recruitment into armed groups and survival sex.

Whilst the current crisis in Lake Chad was triggered by violence linked to armed opposition groups, such as ‘Boko Haram’ and ‘Islamic State West Africa’, the situation has deep roots in historical development and governance challenges which are exacerbated by climate change.

In March 2017 the UN Security Council agreed a resolution on Lake Chad recognising the need for adequate climate-related security ‘risk assessments and risk management strategies by governments and the United Nations’. But following the resolution, the UN Secretary General’s report on Lake Chad did not include any references to climate-related or environmental security risks. This absence lead to calls from members, such as Sweden, to call for independent climate-related security risk assessments and management strategies to inform UN decision-making and programming.

In response to this, supported by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (sipri) commissioned adelphi to carry out a research report, compiling the most recent findings on these climate-related risks in the Lake Chad Basin region. The key findings of the research report will inform decision-making and programming of international organisations, including the United Nation’s Secretary General’s Report on West Africa and the Sahel. The report aims at deepening the understanding on climate-related security risks in Lake Chad and West Africa and the Sahel within foreign policy, and feeding this knowledge into key decision making moments.

The report will be based on the findings of recent field research conducted by adelphi and its local partners in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. The findings on climate-related risks compiled in the report are based on climate research provided by the Centre Européen de Recherche et d’Enseignement des Géosciences de l’Environnement (CEREGE), stakeholder consultations in the region and empirical conflict analysis conducted by the Grassroots Researchers Association (GRA), a Maiduguri-based non-profit organisation.

Publications of this project

  • Climate change, conflict and crisis in Lake Chad

    Vivekananda, Janani 2018: Climate change, conflict and crisis in Lake Chad. In: Independent Review on European Security and Defence, 2018:30, 23-25.