Infrastructure vital to theregion including health centres, schools, waterworks and roads have beendestroyed. The children caught in the conflict have been subjected to violenceand abuse of an unimaginable magnitude, beyond this they have lost their homes,families and years of education which could have aided in the creation of abetter future for the region. The hundreds of women and girls kidnapped by BokoHaram have gone through immense psychological and physical abuse, forcedlabour, forced marriage and sexual slavery. Children have been used and suicidebombers and been coerced into enrolling as combatants. Almost a third of thepopulation across the region lacks food security leading to more than half amillion children in the region to suffer from severe acute malnutrition. The root cause of thisdystopia can be linked to the frequently prolonged droughts which haveafflicted the Basin. The droughts mean that there is less water –a vitalresource- and less arable land to go around.
The effect of this on apredominantly pastoral and farming society dependent on Lake Chad for survivalmeans fewer jobs being produced and smaller profit margins for those withpre-existing jobs, both of which lead to extreme poverty. This risk ofunemployment and hunger makes people, especially the youth, vulnerable torecruitment by illegal groups such as the Boko Haram. The Boko Haram can offerconsistent “salary and calories” to those that they recruit, especially fromfarming and fishing villages. Boko Haram also provides access to services likeeducation, which in the absence of functioning state sponsored schools andtrained teachers makes eager parents flock to them and pushes families, mostly thechildren, into their influence.
The alternative to joining armed groups is notpositive either, most take up petty crime or disorganised violent crime. Womenand girls are increasingly pushed into prostitution. These emergencies: hunger,violence and the disorder that currently plague the Lake Chad Basin are farfrom a tragic coincidence. A complex interplay between many factors is what hascreated the conditions for such social collapse and suffering. Climate changeis a crucial factor here, it has aggravated the worst catalysts of the crisisand fuels the fragility that has incited the region into conflict. To be clear:climate change alone does not create terrorists or turn ordinarily law-abidingcitizens into criminals, but a warming world acts as a threat multiplier makingit difficult to contain the problem and create on sustainable solutions. As GA1 attempts to solvethis conflict we must recognise that the crisis will only be truly solved if weunderstand the effect of climate change on the social stresses that areinflaming it. The solutions presented must address the underlying causes of thecrisis, be sensitive to the needs of the region and durable to theenvironmental challenges brought about by a warming world.
Simply providingemergency relief will not help the cool the crisis as it will be nothing morethan temporary relief which fails to address the untamed accelerant of thefrailty that is climate change. Climate change is the crux of the problem andthe same must extend to the solution. Definitionof Key TermsClimate Change”Changes in the worldsweather, in particular the fact that it is believed to be getting warmer as aresult of human activity increasing the level of carbon dioxide in theatmosphere” (Cambridge Dictionary)Global Warming”A gradual increase in worldtemperatures caused by gases such as carbon dioxide that are collecting in theair around the Earth and stopping heat escaping into space” (CambridgeDictionary)Boko HaramThe commonlyused name for the Islamic State in West Africa. It is a jihadist militaryorganisation based exclusively in the Lake Chad Basin specially in Nigeria.(Derived from the New Yorker)Non-Traditional SecurityNon-TraditionalSecurity (NTS) covers issues that are caused by factors other than political,diplomatic and military conflicts but pose a threat to the survival and/ordevelopment or a sovereign state or community and sometimes human kind as awhole. NTS issues food security, financial security, climate security etc. (Derivedfrom Global India Foundation)Chad Lake BasinThe largeinterior basin on which Lake Chad is situated. The basin and lake are bothsituated at the conjunction of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger.
(Britannica)/(Refer to Figure 1)Militant Group”A groupthat is active, determined and willing to use force in order to propagate theirbelief/cause.” (Cambridge Dictionary)Jihadi “A Muslim fighting for Islam, especially aradical who believes in violence to achieve religious and political aims”(Cambridge Dictionary)Riparian “Relating to or situated on the banksof a river” (Cambridge Dictionary) HistoryA bountiful ecosystem for the system Historically, the diverse populaceof Lake Chad has managed to coexist peacefully and equitably share theplentiful natural resources the Basin. However, that has been slowly changingsince the 1970s, droughts have tremendously hit the region and the water levelof the lake has been shrinking annually causing a disastrous impact on theregions once bountiful natural resources. The result of this has been the eruptionof conflict over the distribution of these materials amongst the populace.These clashes are thought to occur on a much larger scale than known as it isbelieved that a wide number of them go unreported. Recession of the lake causes a decreasein the basins natural resources The region in and around Chad Lake Basin that spans over four countriesis the traditional home of a large community of fishermen, farmers, herder andpastoralists who once enjoyed plentiful natural resources of the Basin. Sincethe 1970s, the Lake has been strongly hit by severe drought causing it to recedeat an unprecedented rate. As of now, the Lake’s water surface has shrunken to50% as compared to its level in 1963.
In this process it has mostly recededfrom the Nigerien and Nigerian territory and moved towards Chad and Cameroon.This combined with population growth; increasing droughts; scarcer rainfall;pumping of the Lake’s water for the water based exploitation of uranium inNiger; and ironically the national irrigation projects conducted by the riparianstates with and without conjunction of others have accelerated the recession ofthe Lake. Between 1983 and 1994, the volume of water diverted to the above mentionedprojects accounted for 50% of the Lake’s decline.
Resource scarcity causes competitionover land and water As a consequence of the previous events, the Lake Chad Basin -which isamongst the poorest regions in the world- is seeing an increasing decline inits previously bountiful natural resources. This has led to tensions andcompetition over land and water access, intensifying since the 1980s. Thedeprivation of traditional sources of livelihood has caused mass scalemigration which has been received with hostility by host populations.
Communities also crossed borders are they followed the receding Lake, leadingto inter-state conflicts. Likewise, herders migrated to ensure proper grazinggrounds for their cattle, causing issues with farmers across the region. Alsoto be considered is the great ethnic diversity of the Lake Chad Basin which hascaused the conflict to be greatly structured along ethnic lines. All thiscombined with the inability of political institutions and structures to resolvecompeting claims over natural resources have greatly caused conflictescalation. Creation of the Lake Chad BasinCommission to manage the lake Lake Chad’s co-riparian states created the Lake Chad BasinCommission(LCBC) as early as 1964 to encourage cooperation between members whenit came to water management.
It was only in the 1980s(when the lake recessionbecame obvious) that they started taking efforts in the direction ofreplenishing the lake and restoring its ecosystem. Despite these efforts,”constant arguments” over access to land and water continue to erupt within communities,often leading to violence. The situation has been further worsened by theproliferation of weapons in the region which has created additional risks andamplified suffering. Inter-ethnic competition and conflictcreate security issues in the basin region. Since 2005, the southern pool of the basin which also happens to be itsmost populated area has been rife with interethnic competition and conflictwhich has been creating security issues. The present threat of the Boko Haramwhich has been growing since 2014 has increased the security risks. Based onsurveys and interviews conducted in Nigeria in 2018, Freedom Onuoha, a Nigerianspecialist on Boko Haram has drawn links between the lack of education, povertyand the vulnerability of communities into joining radical group like the BokoHaram.
This induces that environmental changes which continue to deprivecommunities of their livelihoods could incentivise them to join radicalisedgroups. However not all specialists agree with Onuoha’s premise: Marc-AntoinePérouse de Montclos, a French specialist on Nigeria attributes people joiningextremist groups in the years 2009-2012 to the misallocation of the militarybudget by the Nigerian government and the unconstitutional methods used by theNigerian who arbitrarily slaughtered and raped people in the North. Montclosalso believes that it is premature to currently draw conclusions about the linkbetween poverty and radicalisation. Even if we were to consider the lack ofunanimity amongst scholars about the reason for popular engagement in BokoHaram’s insurgency actions, it remains clear that the presence of the BokoHaram remains a huge threat to the stability of the region. Failure to increase cooperation overwater management As the displayed no signs ofdecelerating recession the co-riparian states began to take actions in the1980s with the support of a number of governmental and non-governmentalinternational institutions such as WWF, UNEP, GIZ, FAO and World Bank. However,the attempt to increase cooperation over water management failed because of thelack of political will of the co-riparian’s and the weak institutional mechanismsof the LCBC. As a result, the inter-state disputes over water and territorialdisputes occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. Theseinclude a conflict between Nigeria and Cameroon about territorial claims overthe Bakassi Peninsula which was later settled by the International Court ofJustice and a conflict between Chad and Nigeria over the islands that surfacedas a result of the recession of Lake Chad.
Further damage was done by the riparianstates by erecting improper damns and poorly designed reservoirs in pursuit ofthe own national interests. This caused the basin’s natural resources to becomeincreasingly scarce having a severe impact on those that depended on it. However,since the 2000s the support of international agencies and organisations aswell as an increased awareness of the lakes degradation which has succeeded inreinstating cooperation amongst the co-riparian statesIneffectiveness of inter-state initiatives to addressthe issue of depletion The LCBC iscurrently conducting a project to transfer the waters of the Congo Basin toLake Chad Basin in order to refill the water basins so to speak. However, thismeasure is not viable in the long run. Some international institutions like theDepartment For International Development (DFID) currently support the LCBC inconducting a number of support and poverty-reduction projects for thecommunities in the region. However, this aspect does not appear as a precedencein the “Lake Vision for 2025 and the Region’s Principle Objectives”. This ismade even more worrying in light of the predictions by NASA according to whichthe Lake could disappear in 20 years if it continues to recede at this pace.
The current initiatives conducted bythe LCBC are not sufficient to solve the conflict at a local as shown by theresurgence of violence at the Lake’s Southern Pool. Projects taken up to thesave the Basin must be two-fold: they must slow down and potentially resolvethe consequences of climate change on the Lake and contain measures to addressthe social root causes of the controversy which makes the population morelikely to engage in conflict. It must also be considered that conflicts sparkedby resource scarcity are often rooted in structural issues such as high levelof poverty, political instability and lack of awareness of communities aboutusing the area’s resources in a sustainable manner.
The failure to previouslyrecognise these concerns has led to the unnecessary escalation of the conflictand hence must be addressed in the resolution.Absence of inclusiveness and lack of capacity buildingmeasures A major issueis the LCBC not being inclusive to members of the community while working onits previously mentioned restoration projects for Lake Chad. Includingcommunities in water-management processes empower them to maintain the lake’secosystem post restoration. Doing so would also include capacity buildingmeasures which they currently lack hence failing to address the widespread needfor work in the region which has in turn led to deepened poverty and increasedinvolvement of communities in criminal activities in order to sustain theirlivelihood. Boko Haram, a major drawback for traditional conflictresolution methods The insurgencyactions of the Boko Haram in the region make it increasingly difficult toimplement any water management or restorative projects in the region.
It isalso fostering political and sociological instability in the Lake Chad Basin.The presence of the Boko Haram gives the conflict a dual nature that entailsboth traditional and non-traditional security threats, making it difficult tosolve one aspect of the conflict without giving due consideration to the other.Institutional solutions to reduce conflictTheco-riparian’s of Lake chad must work towards increased coordination between them in order to reduce conflictpotential of scarcity. This might be best achieved through better management institutions or by granting greaterpowers to existing ones like the LCBC.Reducing fragility and increasingresilience The importanceof improving institutional inclusiveness(governments including communities under them) in water management and otherrestoration related processes has been highlighted by many scholars. This inturn would lead to an improvement instate capacity creating employment opportunities which are much needed inthe region and strengthen state power andthe government’s ability to secure publictrust. Considering that a large basis of this conflict is formed on thelack of employment this measure is exceptionally important.