Environmental struggles have become a “catastrophic” threat to Africa, as people lose their livelihoods, fall ill and battle over scarce water and food. Of the 20 countries in the world with the worst food and nutrition security, 19 are in Africa.
There is a general link between climate change and violent conflict, the results remain inconclusive. Climate change may affect the risk of violent conflict or the dynamics of existing hostilities.
Although climate-induced resource scarcity or extreme weather events do not automatically bring about violent conflict, there are certainly good arguments to be made for how environmental stressors can create conditions that make violent conflict more likely or that may exacerbate existing conflicts in Darfur.
Livelihood conditions are at the heart of the climate-conflict nexus. Climate-related environmental change often severely affects people who are dependent on renewable natural resources for their livelihoods. It decreases the availability or quality of freshwater, degrades grazing lands, kills livestock, and damages cropland.
It is true that impoverishment and human insecurity may arise as a result of climate change, if preventive measures are not undertaken. Global warming pressures has intensified political tensions, unrest and conflict, fuelling extremism, increase crime and human trafficking and break down government security systems, disease has spread, border security and infrastructure has broken down as resources grow more scarce.
The key factors increasing the likelihood of conflict are poverty rates, economic opportunities, and unemployment. Without doubt there has been strong agreement that climate change is a major driver of violent conflict.
Over the next 40 years, production of calories, globally must increase by about 50% in order to keep up with food demand. This massive growth in food production must occur in a context of climate change. Depending substantially on the global mitigation regime pursued, global average temperature will rise by a minimum of about 0.5 degrees to more than one degree Celsius by 2060. Agricultural sector will likely be unproductive when temperatures are high and low rainfall, according to the UN.
More investment is needed to improve our understanding African climate and its relationship to global climate processes, focusing on conflict mitigation, strengthening underlying national health systems, embracing urbanization and migration as adaptation strategies, adapting seeds and agricultural practices that are important to food security in Africa under climate change and more research by researchers responsible to their own constituencies and governments than is currently the case are strategies to climate change adaptation for a continent as large and diverse as Africa.
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