from Africa in Transition

Nigeria, Climate Change, and Conflict

June 9, 2011

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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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.

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