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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid