How climate change fuels conflict in northeast Nigeria
Ms Ummu Kalthum Muhammad
Northeast Nigeria is one region in Sub Saharan Africa that has been in the news but for the wrong reasons. It used to be the most peaceful and accommodating region of Nigeria for decades. Except for the Maitatsine religious riots that engulfed most parts of northern Nigeria and parts of northern Cameroon, the northeast region was always a serene and quiet place. However, this is no longer the case.
There are those who said that over population, poverty, bad governance, and injustice were the cause of the insurgency and terrorism that had engulfed the northeast region beginning from 2009. But there is a school thought that has a better answer: sustainability challenge. The inability of state authorities to plan properly so that sustainable development will be ensured is the major reason the northeast region is embroiled in conflict.
Sustainability is the ability to constantly support or maintain a process across time. Sustainability aims to stop the depletion of natural or physical resources in business and policy contexts so that they will be accessible in the long run. Sustainability in layman’s language involves the preservation of forests, lakes and rivers, the ecosystem and productive use of the wildlife and human population.
The prolonged deforestation of the northeast that was unattended to by successive governments led to deforestation which led to desert encroachment and subsequently a radical climate change that saw the disappearance of the all-purpose Lake Chad disrupted the livelihoods and lifestyle of millions of people in the northeast Nigeria, parts of Niger republic and northern Cameroun. The Lake Chad can be compared to an industrial hub that had been catering for the teaming population of northeast Nigeria. A lot of people survived and thrived on Lake Chad as irrigation farmers and fisher men for decades there. There are those who also survive by catering for the needs of the irrigation farmers and fisher men through the selling of goods and services.
But all this is now history because Lake Chad is no longer what it used to be. Two thirds of Lake Chad is now gone and survival has become very cumbersome and highly competitive. This is what drove the population to the hands of religious extremists who told the population that the democratic government that was modelled after that of the West is responsible for their suffering. They promised them that if they can join hands together with them to overthrow the democratic government and set up a Caliphate, things will be better. The people believed them and that was how the Boko Haram insurgency was started.
Therefore, sustainable policies place a strong emphasis on how a particular policy or corporate practice will affect people, ecosystems, and the larger economy in the long run. The idea frequently corresponds to the conviction that the earth will sustain irreparable harm if significant changes are not made to the way it is managed.
Three pillars—economic, environmental, and social—also known colloquially as profits, planet, and people—are frequently used to describe sustainability.
In addition to the social benefits of improving the environment and elevating human needs, there are also financial benefits for companies that successfully implement sustainability strategies. Using resources sustainability can improve the long-term viability of a business concern, just as cutting waste and pollution can help a company save money.
The humanitarian sector is saddled with a humongous challenge in the northeast because the Boko Haram insurgency has displaced over two million people, killed over twenty thousand people, and destroyed livelihoods worth $7 billion (about $22 per person in the US) (about $22 per person in the US). The Nigerian government and its neighbors have been trying to quench the Boko Haram insurgency and restore peace to the region but this effort has not yielded positive results to date. This is because the government is not really giving attention to sustainability and long-term solutions.