The people of Lake Chad are caught in a conflict trap. Violent conflict between state security forces and armed opposition groups, poor governance, endemic corruption, serious environmental mismanagement and poverty have ruined the lives of local people. Currently, an estimated 10.7 million people need humanitarian assistance, and 5 million of them are acutely food insecure. Climate change is compounding these challenges.
Through the joint analysis of climate change and conflict risks, the present assessment takes an evidence-based approach to understand the different and connected dimensions of risk and inform appropriate responses to the crisis in the Lake Chad region.
Contrary to popular belief, the research finds that the lake is not shrinking. That is not to say that Lake Chad is not affected by climate change. On the contrary, climate change is having profound adverse impacts on the conflict, intensifying existing dynamics and creating new risks. Therefore, states should focus on addressing the following risks:
- The dynamics of ongoing conflict that undermine people’s ability to deal with the consequences of an increasingly variable climate.
- The challenge of increased competition for natural resources.
- The ongoing challenge of recruitment by armed opposition groups.
- Heavy-handed military responses to the violence that can themselves undermine communities’ resilience and their ability to adapt to climate change.
This report also explores ten entry points for reducing conflict and facilitating climate resilience. While this assessment focuses on the Lake Chad basin, it should resonate beyond the region. Lake Chad's challenges and entry points are context-specific, but what the report demonstrates is of global import: climate-proof and conflict-sensitive interventions represent better value for the money and offer a better chance of delivering a lasting peace.