STOCKHOLM, Oct. 1 (IPS) – Hunger, violent conflict and the visible effects of climate change are all on the rise. We need to talk about that.
Despite continued global crop growth, more than 150 million people were severely food insecure in 2020, and 1 million were on the brink of famine this summer. The main drivers of this food insecurity were violent conflicts and extreme weather events.
With active armed conflict at an all-time high, the effects of climate change are accelerating and the need to find sustainable solutions to the global economic catastrophe caused by the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic, hunger, conflict and dangerous interactions between the effects of climate change cannot be over-emphasized.
Hunger, Conflict and Climate Change: A Deadly Cocktail
Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe together accounted for 10 of the worst hunger crises in 2020. In the previous decade, they accounted for more than 722 percent of all collisions worldwide. Most of these countries are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
This is not a mere coincidence. Conflict and climate change both affect people’s ability to produce, trade and access, often through complex interactions.
Attacks on food production are a regular feature of warfare, either by placing landmines in that field, burning crops, looting or killing livestock, or forcing farmers to move away from food grains to more lucrative illegal crops such as coca leaves.
Disruption of transport routes makes it difficult to distribute and store food, especially the more perishable types. And when food is short and the formal markets fail to supply, the black market can prosper, profits often go to one conflicting party or another and thus help prolong the war. Not surprisingly, chronic food insecurity is one of the major legacies of the war.
Climate change can also disrupt food production from immediate damage from floods and droughts, slowing the effects of changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures that make it difficult to grow existing crop varieties.
These effects can destroy the livelihoods of farmers and pastoralists. The risk of conflict increases as they compete or relocate for potential land and water resources. They can also be judged by armed groups promising security and bright prospects.
In Mali, for example, about one-fifth of the population is food-insecure because of the high variability of rainfall and frequent and severe droughts associated with climate change. Extremist groups have quickly used it to their advantage, providing people with food in exchange for aid, and this has exacerbated the conflict.
South Sudan faces a similar situation. In flood-prone pastures, such as in the jungle, cattle raids have become more frequent and more violent.
On the positive side, these links between hunger, climate and conflict provide entry points for action that addresses all three – and works more effectively than programs that try to deal with them separately.
For example, a region of East Africa known as the Greater Karamoza Cluster – in wider parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda – has experienced violent clashes between groups of migratory shepherds during the long drought.
The Inter-Government Development Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have been able to reduce these conflicts, and have increased the livelihoods and food security of pastoralists by helping to negotiate the use of pastures and water resources.
Even small-scale, high-localization programs can catalyze massive change. In Colombia, a country that is extremely vulnerable to climate change and has inherited a long-running armed conflict, the revival of traditional indigenous knowledge is gaining momentum.
These include natural early warning signs, such as the presence of certain migratory birds, which can help locals prepare themselves for the effects of climate change, as well as revive sustainable farming, fishing and hunting practices. In the process, it unites communities divided by war.
Rising Hunger and Conflict The United Nations has called for urgent action in the face of the acute effects of climate change, in contrast to decades of progress. But these are connected problems, compounding each other at deadly prices for man and nature.
While acknowledging that conflict and climate are linked to food insecurity, the recent UN Food Management Conference missed the opportunity to discuss in depth how these connections work or how to resolve them.
Another opportunity for real progress is coming with the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, COP26. It is to be hoped that the adaptation of climate change and the discussion of harm and loss will clearly see how hunger, conflict and climate change can be doubled.
Dr. Fara Farah Hegazi He is a researcher in the Climate Change and Risk Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), where he specializes in environmental peacekeeping. He is part of the SIPRI initiative research team for Peace Environment (https://www.sipri.org/research/peace-and-development/environment-peace).
Dr. Carol Caroline Delgado SIPRI is a senior researcher and director of the Food, Peace and Security Program. His areas of expertise include conflict, human security and peacekeeping. He is one of the focal points of the Global Registry of Violent Deaths (GReVD).
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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal Source: Inter Press Service