Janani Vivekananda, Martin Wall (adelphi), Florence Sylvestre and Chitra Nagarajan

Lake Chad is caught in a conflict trap. Violence between armed opposition groups – including the so-called ‘Islamic State West Africa Province’ and ‘Boko Haram’ – and state security forces has left 10.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Climate change is compounding these challenges. This report identifies key risks and proposes pragmatic solutions to shore up stability in the region.

This crisis is not simply collateral damage from harsh conditions in the Sahel.  In  fact,  as  a  unique  fresh  water  lake  in  the  middle  of  the  arid Sahara, Lake Chad is an ecological miracle. For millennia, it has been a source of life, resilience and even prosperity for the surrounding area. But since 2009, the parts of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon bordering Lake  Chad—which  are  home  to  more  than  17.4  million  people—have been  locked  into  multiple  and  overlapping  crises.  Whether  it  will  be possible  for  people  to  break  out  of  this  conflict  trap  will  depend  on  a nuanced  understanding  of  how  climate  change  and  conflict  interact in  this  specific  context. 

Through  the  joint  analysis  of  climate  change and  conflict  risks,  the  present  assessment  takes  an  evidence-based approach to understand the different and connected dimensions of risk and inform appropriate responses. This report is the first of its kind on the Lake Chad region and a pioneer among  climate-fragility  risk  assessments  globally.  It  is  the  product  of an  intensive  two-year  period  of  research  across  all  four  countries.  The assessment draws on long-term hydrological data from the Lake Chad basin,  including  ground  measurements  as  well  as  brand  new  analysis of  20  years  of  satellite  observations.  It  also  builds  on  more  than  200 interviews   with   community   members,   including   past   and   present members  of  armed  opposition  groups,  experts  and  officials,  and  an extensive  review  of  the  literature  on  Lake  Chad.  It  aims  to  present  a balanced, fact-driven conflict and climate risk assessment of the Lake Chad region that identifies key risks and proposes pragmatic solutions.