Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Changing the land...not changing lands

 nabadiyocaano - ‘peace and milk’
col iyoabaar - ‘conflict and drought’
Somali proverbs

The world’s drought-prone and water scarce regions are often the main sources of refugees. With as many as 170 countries affected by drought or desertification, up to 135 million people are at risk of distressed migration as a result of land degradation in the next 30 years, says the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Droughts are natural phenomena, they are not fated to lead to forced migration and conflict. But neither desertification nor drought on its own causes conflict or forced migration. Severe droughts occur in countries like Australia and the United States, but government intervention has made these experiences bearable. For poor countries where safety nets do not exist.

In Mali, for example, unpredictable and decreasing rainfall seasons have led to a decline in harvests. More and more herders and farmers’ are moving into cities searching for employment. In Bamako, Mali’s capital, population in just over 20 years has grown from 600,000 to roughly   2 million with living conditions becoming more precarious and insecure. As Lagos fills up with those fleeing desertification in rural northern Nigeria, its population now 10 million. Disillusioned, unemployed youth are easy prey for smugglers, organised drug and crime cartels, even for Boko Haram.

Pastoralists face similar challenges when they are compelled to move beyond their accepted boundaries in search of water and pasture and risk clashing with other populations unwilling to share resources. Clashes between pastoralists and farmer are a serious challenge for governments in Somalia, Chad and Niger.

The Great Green Wall of the Sahara  seeks to restore degraded lands and create green jobs in the land-based sectors. The Great Man-Made River project was also a promising initiative. 

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