Lake Chad Risk Assessment: The role of climate change in the current crisis

Lake Chad from Space

The Lake Chad Basin region is facing one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises. In late 2017, more than seven million people suffered from severe food insecurity and more than two million have been displaced by the intractable conflict plaguing the region.

The current crisis was triggered by armed violence linked to armed opposition groups, such as ‘Boko Haram’ in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria and ‘Islamic State West Africa’. However, underlying causes for the insecurity in the region are far more complex and deeply ingrained in the region’s historical context. The crisis is rooted in factors such as inequality, long-term political marginalisation and exclusion. Today, climate change and environmental degradation are exacerbating the challenges faced by the predominantly rural population, most of whom rely on farming, fishing, and raising livestock. An increasingly changing climate, namely more variable rainfall, has caused the lake’s water levels to fluctuate more unpredictably. This affects already vulnerable livelihoods and access to natural resources such as the availability of freshwater, grazing lands, fish stocks, and vegetation that the residents depend upon. As different groups—such as herders and farmers—compete to secure these scarce natural resources, social tensions escalate and the risk of violent conflict increases.

Although several projects were initiated by national governments and the international community to improve the humanitarian and development situation in the Lake Chad region, there is as yet no analysis or process which explicitly takes account of the significant impacts of climate change on the security situation around Lake Chad. In order to close this knowledge and action gap, the G7 mandated the Lake Chad Risk Assessment project. The project aims at identifying the impact of climate change on the livelihoods of the local population and the resulting security and fragility risks. Based on this analysis, the project will provide tailored briefings and policy recommendations to ministries, donors and implementing agencies on entry points for potential actions in the region. The Lake Chad Risk Assessment Project is a follow-up to the G7 commissioned report A New Climate for Peace and applies the recommendations of the report to the Lake Chad region.

The analysis for this project is based on locally grounded research and a strong participatory process, conducted by and involving key local stakeholders. The assessment will be carried out by a consortium of leading research institutes led by adelphi, including the Centre Européen de Recherche et d’Enseignement des Géosciences de l’Environnement (CEREGE), providing climate expertise on Lake Chad and the Grassroots Researchers Association (GRA), a Maiduguri-based non-profit organisation conducting empirical research and conflict analysis in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region.  

Publications of this project

  • Climate Change, Peace and Security in the Lake Chad Basin – Findings from the "Lake Chad Climate-Fragility Risk Assessment Project"

    adelphi 2018: Climate Change, Peace and Security in the Lake Chad Basin. Findings from the "Lake Chad Climate-Fragility Risk Assessment Project". Berlin: