News / Africa

Researchers Try to Help Prevent Climate Change Conflict

Nepalese villager fetches water from a stream in the village of Bhattegaun (File)
Nepalese villager fetches water from a stream in the village of Bhattegaun (File)

Experts say climate change is contributing to more and more conflicts around the world, especially in Africa. Researchers and aid agencies say they are doing their best to help reduce this trend.

At a panel discussion late Tuesday  in Washington, Jeffrey Stark from the U.S.-based Foundation for Environmental Security and Sustainability described a worrisome scenario he recently encountered in the central cattle corridor of Uganda.

"We heard basically a consensus that the climate has changed in significant kinds of ways. And so we did hear repeatedly that there had been increasing temperatures, drying wetlands, less frequent but more intense rain, hail storms and most significantly unpredictable shifts in seasonal patterns," said Stark. "The pastoralists in the cattle corridor have to travel farther in search of pasture and water and they encounter cultivators who are having difficulties of their own and they often come into conflict."

Panelists said this trend was repeating itself in many parts of Africa.

They said that, beyond raising the alarm on the link between climate change and conflict, researchers must now help governments, civil society groups and aid agencies prevent natural disasters from turning into war.

Stark, who is currently studying the ongoing drought in southern Ethiopia, said it is important for all affected parties to feel they are being helped equally.

"Any intervention in relation to climate adaptation whether for water, or food, or alternative livelihoods has to be fully understood and explicitly acknowledged as mutually beneficial by all sides," he said. "If it is seen in any way to be favoring one group or another it will just cause conflict, so it is a very difficult and delicate situation."

Other parts of the world are not immune to climate change causing conflict.  Janani Vivekananda from the British-based group International Alert has been studying the trend in eastern Nepal, where monsoon rains have been failing in recent years.

"We think of climate change as the risk multiplier, the so-called risk multiplier, as something that will amplify existing social, political and resource stresses, shifting the tipping point at which climate might ignite conflict," said Vivekananda.

Panelists described places with a growing youth population awash in weapons with unresponsive political systems as extremely vulnerable to climate change induced violence.

But Vivekananda said the growing awareness of climate change as a potential problem allowed governments and researchers to discuss these other issues as well.

"Different members of government and of the research community were able to come together and have essentially a discussion on conflict and governance issues but were able to do so because framing it as a climate change discussion meant it was a safe space to bring together these actors and have the discussion," she said.

Cynthia Brady, a conflict advisor from the United States Agency for International Development, was encouraged by the progress being made in the research field of climate change and conflict, particularly with the case studies.

"We are all hopeful that there will be some really significant common lessons learned and that at a minimum we might draw some basic parameters. I hope that we can get there," said Brady. "It might take more than a few case studies but this is kind of our first effort at trying to generate that sort of knowledge."

Brady also stressed the importance of linking work being done at the international negotiation level, such as with the United Nations framework on climate change, and what is taking place at very local levels, where panelists said each climate change scenario has its own particularities, dangers and even opportunities.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs