Climate change is impacting food security in West Africa


  • 2011•12•06     Bonn

    Changes in climate trends are already affecting livelihoods and food security in the Sahel and West Africa, according to new evidence released on 5 December at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa.

    A joint study by the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel calls for major investments in climate change adaptation to reduce the risk of conflict and forced migration.

    The study indicates that climate change could  potentially have profound implications for food security and regional stability, adding to the pressure on governments to stay on a course to reach a new international climate agreement.

    The study analyses regional trends in temperature, rainfall, droughts and flooding over the past four decades, and their implications for the availability of natural resources, livelihoods, migration and conflict in 17 West African countries. The analysis has detected significant changes in regional climatic conditions, including an overall rise in mean seasonal temperature from 1970 to 2006 of approximately 1 °C, with a greater increase of between 1.5°C to 2°C observed in eastern Chad and northern Mali and Mauritania.

    The study also shows that the frequency of floods and the area covered by flooding have increased in parts of the region over the past 24 years — for example, with large areas of southern Burkina Faso, western Niger and northern Nigeria experiencing up to ten floods during this period.

    The report, Livelihood Security: Climate Change, Migration and Conflict in the Sahel, uses an innovative mapping process to identify 19 “climate hotspots” where climatic changes have been the most severe and which warrant focused adaptation planning and other follow-up activities.

    For more information, please see the UNU-EHS website.