John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Nigeria, Climate Change, and Conflict

by John Campbell
June 9, 2011

A man casts a fishing net in the Makoko fishing community in Lagos November 21, 2009. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

The U.S. Institute of Peace has just published a sophisticated and nuanced  report on the impact of climate change on Nigeria by Aaron Sayne, the West Africa program director for the Transnational Crisis Project. Sayne explores the potential links between climate change and conflict in Nigeria and the potential consequences, including land scarcity, property loss, water shortages, and loss of oil wealth, as well as secondary impacts, such as declining health and increased mortality, displacement, hunger, and economic decline.

Considering Nigeria’s dependency on oil and agriculture, desertification in the north and rising sea levels in the south, for example, have the potential to generate conflict. But he also cautions that the political implications of climate change are still poorly understood. So far, successive administrations have responded weakly. Sayne  makes recommendations, including urging greater donor involvement in assisting Nigeria’s response to climate change.

To me, the report highlights that the Nigerian government needs to muster  exceptional  political will to face the challenge of climate change that has thus far been absent in its response to the insurrection in the Delta, disaffection in the North, and ethnic conflict in the Middle Belt.

Post a Comment 5 Comments

  • Posted by Chike

    The problem with this report is not that it is not relevant but a Government that cannot effectively provide primary healthcare, education and security cannot deal with the more abstract challenge of Climate Change.

    For the next four years, the Jonathan administration will have its hands full dealing with two major issues: inter-ethnic strife and electricity generation. If it can deliver on these two issues, it will be judged a success.

    So this report (along with other expertly written reports) will be shelved until we can get the basics right.

  • Posted by Obasesam

    I cannot challenge the relationship between climate change and conflict as many studies have demonstrated that such relationship exists. However, I contend that conflicts in the Niger Delta and Northern Nigeria have no relationship with climate change. To me this study exaggerates the facts because climate change would be the least variable to consider when evaluating the causes of conflict in the Niger Delta or even Northern Nigeria.

    At least a plethora of research has shown that inhabitants of the oil producing region have experienced decades of historical injustice amounting to gross violation of their human rights. Much of these violations concern the destruction of livelihoods due to oil mining and the neglect of affected communities. This is the potential trigger of conflict.

    Again, with religious uprising in Northern Nigeria, mostly fuelled by extremists, it surprises me that one could link conflict in that country to a changing climate.

    While I respect Aaron Sayne’s perspective on this issue, I believe an objective investigation of the causal conditions of conflict in Nigeria would reveal variables that transcend climate change.

  • Posted by treasurebond Nig Ltd

    This report is very key to solving the etnic/religious crisis facing the GEJ Administration in all sence of it so needs urgent attention. let me ask a question ? will electricity solve the problem of a farmer whose land has been devastated by flood or desertification menace, water stress etc…how about the drought facing the North and its attendant security issues ? we better think and forestall an iminent security situation.

  • Posted by Chike

    treasurebond Nig Ltd,

    Electricity will go a long way in mitigating the effect of desertification. Nevada is more arid than Northern Nigeria and is flourishing. Electrical motor driven water pumps can give an all year harvesting season.

  • Posted by olamiju

    the arguements are interesting, however with a critical look from a planner’s perspective, I think there’s need to consider all issues raised. The crises of the Niger-Delta has environmental instability undertone which results from havocs recked by oil exploration. dont forget that the northern states are becoming more desert-prone. they are thus likely to revolt inproportionally against other external challenges supported by Obisesam and Chike

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