Security in the African continent is severly undermined by climate-related impacts such as droughts, floods and conflicts for resources. However, deep-seated ad-hoc approaches hinder a long-term perspective over the effects of these shocks on the continent's development. Aliou Dia, Africa Team Leader Climate Change and Energy at UNDP, stresses the need to mainstream climate security in national and regional agendas as a development issue.
“Climate security is a big issue in Africa, mainly in the Sahel, mainly in the Horn of Africa, because you have the seen the drought effect of climate-induced drought throughout Africa, mainly in the Sahel region, where people are losing their livelihoods, people are moving because only they are not able to do their farming as they were used to doing in the past. Pastoral groups are also on the move, constantly on the move, because they don’t find pastures for their livestock and so on.
And that leads to conflicts between communities. That leads to conflicts between farmers and pastors, and so on. It’s constantly happening at the community level in the Sahel, around the Lake Chad basin, in the Horn of Africa – in Somalia, Ethiopia, in all of those areas. It’s a big issue, because they are losing their livelihoods, and when you lose your livelihood you get exposed. Exposed to what? To terrorist groups that come and recruit, because you don’t have any other living alternatives and so on. Or simply you move to cities, where you have to start a new life and nothing will be easy for you.
The underlying factors of all that are really the climate-related shocks: droughts, floods, but also issues related to sea level rise in Africa’s coastal cities, which is a big thing and that is also related to climate. Many people are losing their homes in the coastal areas. If you go to Senegal, Northern Senegal, St. Louis, if you go to Togo, the whole Gulf of Guinea – those are real issue that people in these communities are facing. We need more proactive governance issues to be able to address the climate security-related conflicts in the Sahel and in Africa.
Climate-related issues, disaster-related issues in Africa are still not felt as development issues; they are still felt as “now, a disaster happened, let’s respond with a humanitarian ad-hoc approach to the whole process”. What we need and what the governments in Africa need to do is really to engage or embark themselves into what we call “risk-informed development process”. If we are not able to mainstream climate-related issues, if we are not able to mainstream disaster-related issues, in our own national development planning, there is no way that we will be succeeding in meeting the goals of the SDGs in Africa, there is no way that we will be able to meet the objectives of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, so I think that’s where we need to invest.”