Blessing Bature-Akpakpan, Abuja
About 90 percent of refugees are from countries affected by the impact of climate change. In 2020, 82 million people were forcibly displaced by conflict, persecurtion and violence with 48 million of them within their own borders and 26 million as refugees.
The Conflicts, combined with the pandemic and the effect of climate change is severely aftecting food systems worldwide; causing hunger and even famine. The number of people facing starvation has already surpassed 270 million. Today 41 million people worldwide are at a risk of dying of hunger across 43 countries. Of these 11.4 million live in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, North-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.
The combination of climate change and conflict continue to exacerbate inequalities, pushing people from their homes, disrupting food production and supplies, amplifying diseases and malnutrition, and weakening health-care services.
The crisis in Northeast Nigeria is a complex emergency and presents an intricate web of issues that require the collective collaboration of different actors in the search of a durable solution.
The humanitarian crisis in the Bay States remains one of the largest in the world today. At the peak of the crisis in 2017, over 2.2 million people were displaced in the BAY states and 303,963 Nigerian refugees are in neighbouring countries Cameroon (115,695), Chad (16,294) and Niger (171,974). The situation is also very dynamic with an estimated 1.9 million currently displaced in the worstaffected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
In addition, an estimated 1.6 million displaced people have returned to relatively safe areas in Bay States with limited basic services and livelihood opportunities, over US$ 3.2 billion has been mobilized for the humanitarian response in the north-east from 2017 to 2020, providing life-saving assistance to over 5.5 million people annually.
The humanitarian community in Nigeria, including the Government, INGOs, Civil Society and the UN have done very good work over the years in alleviating human suffering, averting a famine in 2017, and bringing hope to millions of people affected by the conflict.
However, 8.7 million people in the BAY states still need humanitarian assistance in 2021, requiring a total of US$ 1.01 billion. In addition, 1.4 million people are displaced in northwest Nigeria and over 1 million in north central that equally need humanitarian assistance.
The ongoing conflict continues to be the main driver of humanitarian needs in north-east Nigeria with the following challenges: Deteriorating security situation and shrinking humanitarian space, Increasing humanitarian needs and declining funding Security and access challenges, Increasing food insecurity and risk of catastrophic food insecurity and if preventive measures are not scaled-up and enhanced especially during the lean season.
Presently, there are thousands of trees being planted across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states spanning multiple locations in these states, involving humanitarians, state and local actors and communities have organized themselves to go out and pick up trash beautifying their surroundings; and meaningful climate discussions are occurring on local state radio stations also involving multiple state holders.
Young Nigerian climate change influencers have been engaging the public on social media and bringing to the forefront the importance of this issue and its impact on the country, but most especially the most vulnerable in the north-east BAY states.
During the 2021 Humanitarian day, Edward Kallon, UN Resident and humanitarian Coordinator, Nigeria said about 80% of people in need of humanitarian assistance across the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states are women and children. Women and children are disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and gender inequalities have been reinforced over the past few months.
Kallon said the ongoing conflict has resulted in a serious protection crisis with continued violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, violations of the rights of children, abduction, rape, arbitrary killings, gender-based violence, and the collapse of traditional coping mechanisms, saying from global best practices, there are no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian problems and the only solution to the crisis in Northeast Nigeria is peace.
According to him, “As we look at the resent surrender of non- state armed actors in the north-east, we are able to get a glimpse of hope “on the hoizon”, However, we must also be cognizant of the reality that there is still much work to do in the north-east, and the road to recovery and stabilization must continue to untold in this ongoing humanitarian context, We must continue to meet acute humanitarian needs, with an eye and intention towards sustainable development.
According to the UN Secretary General, “the Climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is race we can win”. The climate emergency is wreaking havoc and time is already running out for millions of the world’s most vulnerable. On this WHD, we remind the world that we are caught in a climate emergency. The average global temperature is already 1.2 degrees centigrade warmer that the pre-industrial level (1850 -1900) and heading for a catastrophic temperature rise of 3-5 degree centigrade this century. The humanitarian need could double to over 200 million people by 2050, and the humanitarian funding needs could increase to US$ 20 Billion annually by 2030.
From the analysis, a three-pronged approach is required to find a durable solution to the crisis in north-east Nigeria: This requires the engagement of a diverse range of actors, based on their respective collective comparative advantages with the continuation of the counter-insurgency effort of the NAF and the counter-terrorism effort by the MNIJTF.
This however needs to be complemented with dialogue and a peace building process to achieve peace; Continuation of life saving assistance in pockets of acute humanitarian needs built around a resilience-based approach to support the affected population cope with the impact of the crisis, recover from it and engage in transformative change; Address the root causes of the crisis due to prolonged development deficit, multidimensional poverty, Governance and Human Rights deficits and climate vulnerabilities.
Addressing complex emergencies requires appropriate locally-constructed and context-specific’ initiatives to address the duality of the key problems we encounter to simultaneously, Reduce needs, risks and vulnerabilities of the affected populations; Build resilience at individual, household, community and institutional levels.
At the core of strengthening the coherence between humanitarian, development and peace is reducing people’s needs, risk and vulnerabilities, supporting prevention efforts and thus, shifting from delivery of humanitarian assistance to ending the needs for this assistance in the future; this is a prolonged and phased approach that still requires much support as communities recover and development takes over. This is critical in reducing the humanitarian caseloads and ensuring that we meet our collective pledge to leave no one behind.