Climate Change and Migration in Africa

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Climate Change and Migration in Africa


his series seeks to shed light on the interconnected issues of climate change and migration, and contribute to a growing body of policy work to enable civil society and governments to navigate these challenges and prevent a human crisis across the continent: The World Bank has estimated that climate change could cause more than 86 million people to migrate within Africa by 2050 alone.

To kick off the series, we engaged with experts from around the continent working on climate change and migration on a daily basis. Activists, policy makers, academics and consultants spoke to us about the issues closest to their hearts. We then invited African scholars and researchers to participate in a policy briefing research competition focused on climate change and migration in Africa to propose new ways in which civil society, national, regional or international actors could respond to and collaborate on these interconnected challenges. Over 80 submissions were received, before being narrowed down to nine final papers. All series outputs are available below, and were published in June 2020.


A voice for indigenous communities affected by climate change: Interview with Hindou Ibrahim

An interview with Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, an environmental activist from Chad and co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, the indigenous peoples’ caucus to the UN. She details how climate change has impacted her Mbororo pastoralist community around Lake Chad. She also reflects on the value add of indigenous communities in global climate talks given their traditional knowledge systems.


The legal protection of climate refugees in East Africa

Victor Nyamori, an international migration practitioner and refugee rights lawyer, writes about his experiences with climate refugees in East Africa over the past decade following his first exposure to such issues at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. He reflects on how the legal protection of these migrants has progressed but argues that more needs to be done, as the region is headed for a climate crisis.

Victor Nyamori


Resolving climate change-induced migration and conflict in South Sudan

Nhial Tiitmamer, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Programme at the Sudd Institute, details how an increase in flooding has resulted in migration and the potential for conflict in South Sudan. By comparing the two different migratory approaches of Sudanese Arab communities and Dinka pastoralist communities, he identifies conflict resolution strategies that can be taken forward.

Nhial Tiitmamer


Southern Africa lags behind in protection of (climate) migrants

Dr Katharine Vincent, Director of Kulima Integrated Development Solutions, a climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction consultancy, provides insight into climate change-induced migration in Southern Africa and how the region lags behind its counterparts across the continent when it comes to the protection of climate migrants. The region's attitude towards migrants in general feeds into this.

Katharine Vincent


Addressing the Climate-Migration Nexus in the UN-AU Partnership

In this policy briefing, Oluwole Olutola, a postdoctoral research fellow within the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), delves into how the AU and UN can jointly respond to the challenges of climate change and human mobility in Africa. He argues that the organisations have struggled to achieve this coherence to date, despite cooperation on other issues, including Agenda 2063 and the UN SDGs.

Oluwole Olutola


Climatic Factors in Nigeria's Farmer-Herder Conflict

Adebusuyi Isaac Adeniran, a senior lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria and a research consultant with the UNODC, looks at how climate change has exacerbated conflict between land-owning farmers and Fulani herders in Nigeria, and proposes conflict resolution solutions. Over the long-term he calls for the Nigerian government to replicate the Gansu-modelled water conservation project in Kano.

Adebusuyi Isaac Adeniran


Return and (Re)Integration in Fragile Contexts: The Experiences of Somali Returnees

Jacqueline Owigo, a PhD candidate at the US International University – Africa, and Omar Yusuf, an independent researcher based in Mogadishu, Somalia, investigate the effects of climate change on the conditions of return for rejected asylum seekers, deportees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Somalia. They offer up solutions from a recent pilot study in Kismayo.

Jacqueline Owigo

Omar Yusuf


Climate Change, Internal Displacement and the Kampala Convention

Romola Adeola examines the dimensions of climate-induced internal displacement and the protection of IDPs as envisioned in the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons, otherwise known at the Kampala Convention. She is from the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and the Global Engagement Network on Internal Displacement in Africa at the University of London.

Romola Adeola


Multi-Local Livelihoods, Climate Change and Urban Vulnerability

Caitlin Blaser Mapitsa, a senior lecturer in Monitoring and Evaluation at the Wits School of Governance, studies how the strategy of multi-locality puts the burden of climate adaptation on already vulnerable peri-urban residents. She argues that this threatens to reverse the progress made by South Africa’s expansion of social services and safety nets in rural communities.

Caitlin Blaser Mapitsa


Building Climate Resilience Through Effective, Gender-Sensitive Migration Policy in the SADC Region

Bertha Chiroro, a project coordinator for GenderCC-Southern Africa, advocates for communicating climate change impacts in a way that considers the well-being of communities by linking climate change to poverty and a human rights-based, gender-responsive migration policy in SADC. She notes that local government engagement is critical in the regional forum in order to accommodate a migration–development nexus.

Bertha Chiroro


Migration as Adaptation: Addressing Rural-Urban Migration in Uganda

Alex Farley-Kiwanuka and Sadam Yiga Farley-Kiwanuka, researchers working on migration and climate change interventions and policy, look at the need for better data collection around the role of climate change as a driver of rural–urban migration in Uganda, particularly to Kampala. The paper also looks at the risks and vulnerabilities of migrants coming to the city.

Alex Farley-Kiwanuka

Sadam Yiga Farley-Kiwanuka


Mitigating the Impact of Cyclone Disasters: Lessons from Cyclone Idai

Lazarus Chapungu, a research chair and lecturer of Geography and Environmental Science at Great Zimbabwe University, presents cyclone disaster management strategies for effective relief and recovery in affected communities, using Cyclone Idai in southern Africa as a case study. He calls for local communities to be integrated into pre-disaster planning for local communities to be fortified against extreme weather.

Lazarus Chapungu


Climate Change-Induced Migration in the Horn of Africa

Fredu Nega Tegebu, a senior research fellow at the Horn Economic and Social Policy Research Institute in Ethiopia, takes a long-term perspective on human and socioeconomic development to reduce the number of distressed individuals forced to move as a result of climate change in the region.

Fredu Nega Tegebu

(Main image: Getty Images)