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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora