Climate Change and Conflict: A Case Study of Darfur Conflict (4)

David Ochieng Onyango

A research project submitted in partial fulfillment for the award of a Degree in Master of Arts in International Conflict Management at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (IDIS), University of Nairobi.
Competition between pastoralists and agriculturalists over access and control of resources is key to so many conflicts in East Africa, including the crisis in Darfur. Violence between tribes and ethnic groups are the most visible dividing lines, but the stories of these conflicts cannot be told without including underlying environmental and demographic stresses.
Robert (2001) notes that the droughts of 1983-1984 caused a precipitation drop in food production in Darfur and this has since been followed by years of collapse in production yields which is linked to global warming. Prolonged droughts and desertification in the North Darfur has the nomadic groups south whereby one in contact with the agricultural groups and conflicts arise over the access of water resources. In fact, it has further been noted by Robert that rainfall has tremendously reduced in Sudan since 1967 and large increase in human and livestock population and persistent drought which is as a result of global warming is a major cause of war in the Nuba Mountains where pastoralists Arab nomads who are not local to the area, are seeking prolonged shelter in the wet-hills.
Thomas Homes Dixson (1999) argues that negative environmental change as a result of climate change has led to conflicts especially in the third world countries in Africa.33 He explains that climate change has led to resource scarcity through various effects that lead to environmental degradation and issues such as population growth has further propelled intergroup tension’s and human displacements which has in turn lead to instability and conflict. Libiszwski (1992) on the other hand states that conflicts which result from simple resource scarcity and those that result from environmental degradation are useful because resource conflicts are common in Africa. 34 He further argues that conflicts that are from the depletion of these resources are largely as a result of manmade or effects of men activities.
20Libiszwski (1992) on the other hand states that conflicts which result from simple resource scarcity and those that result from environmental degradation are useful because resource conflicts are common in Africa. 34 He further argues that conflicts that are from the depletion of these resources are largely as a result of manmade or effects of men activities.
It has been noted by Nick Hepworth that Africa has contributed very little to global warming but it is adversity affected by climate change. Whereas Africa has a role to play in the mitigation of the greenhouse gas emissions, Africa’s major focus is on issues of adoption. He further notes that human induced climate change is likely to have severe consequences especially in African countries like Sudan that has been experiencing severe and perennial droughts. He also notes that Climate change has been an area of increasing debate in the media all over the world. The subject has been increasing and getting more media airtime over the last couple of years. The debates mirrored among the civil societies and political institutions. However, it has been noted that increased coverage and awareness doesn’t necessarily translate to increased understanding or action within the group that is affected or able to affect change
A report on global humanitarian forum on human impact notes that scientists have detected a gradual warming and wetting trend in the horn of Africa over the past 100 years. They further note that exceptionally wet years were at the beginning of 1960’s and 21this is why there has been an increase of rainfall and this cannot be attributed to human induced global warming with any certainty.
As part of its Africa talks climate initiative, the BBC world service trust, concluded a research to explore public understanding of climate change in 2009. The findings were that majority of Africans have noted changes in the weather, seasons and droughts most have very little understanding of their issues and the climate. Many of Africans are unfamiliar with the concepts of climate change and global warming. Many also believe that human beings are to blame for climate changes because of local deforestation and local pollution that are primary of drought and environmental degradation. Many Africans also look up to the governments and non-governmental institutions for help and they feel that they have done very little to combat the situation. Finally, many Africans have learnt the issues of climate change through the social media and they do not see the link of climate change and conflicts.
Clearly depletion of forests have greatest consequence for both humans and other species this is because forests provide a large number of ecological services that stabilize the climate, protect plants and animals for a very long time, forests may have changed in spatial coverage and composition due to natural climatic changes occurring commonly over a long period of time.
In a UNDP report on gender equality strategy, they note that women because of social roles, discrimination and poverty are affected differently by climate change and extreme weather events. This could be because women are not adequately represented in the decision making processes or in the development of adaptation or mitigation strategies. Without a robust handling and integration of gender issues within the climate change response, there is a risk of lost opportunities and that unequal impacts and deepen gender inequity may result. The report notes that improved understanding and analysis of gender and climate change must be integrated into examining the issues and response; information must be gathered, documented and effectively communicated; that international policies and plans must be influenced to integrate gender issues and that women should participate when developing strategies such as conflict strategies because it is the same women that are worst affected by the effects of conflicts that are brought about by the effects of climate change.
Elinor (2005) argues that the study of global environmental change was carried out largely by earth science disciplines such as meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric sciences, geology among others, but the discipline has now been an area of focus in subjects such as conflict management.
Moran (2010) further argues that climate change subject has deep notes in the social sciences. The Greco- Roman, Arab enlightenment and later philosophers laid basis about the impact of the environment on people. The three main themes can be observed in Western intellectual history up to the 1950’s that sought to explain human interactions with nature, environmental determinism, possibilism and adaptations.. The first view overemphasized over emphasized the influence of nature, while the second view over emphasized the role of culture while the third view bridged the gap these two and emphasized the mutual interaction of people with nature as they to adopt from this interaction.
Environmental determinism was a dominant view from at least Greco-Roman times to well in the twentieth Century. This view came up from observations of the apparent link between psychological tenancies and climate. However it is curios that while the views of Greco-Roman and Arab thinkers credited their superior achievements in their heyday to the superb dry Mediterranean climate in later centauries when temperate countries were ascendant politically, temperate countries were viewed as a reason for lesser power of those people. This brought an appearance in that for example, given poor soil dooms a people to poverty or that oppressive heat as a result of climate change saps people of their energy to work and achievement.
Environmental determinism was a dominant view from at least Greco-Roman times to well in the twentieth Century. This view came up from observations of the apparent link between psychological tenancies and climate. However it is curios that while the views of Greco-Roman and Arab thinkers credited their superior achievements in their heyday to the superb dry Mediterranean climate in later centauries when temperate countries were ascendant politically, temperate countries were viewed as a reason for lesser power of those people. This brought an appearance in that for example, given poor soil dooms a people to poverty or that oppressive heat as a result of climate change saps people of their energy to work and achievement. Environmental determinism is however mostly directed today.
Moran (2010) further argues that climate change subject has deep notes in the social sciences. The Greco- Roman, Arab enlightenment and later philosophers laid basis about the impact of the environment on people. The three main themes can be observed in Western intellectual history up to the 1950’s that sought to explain human interactions with nature, environmental determinism, possibilism and adaptationism. The first view overemphasized the influence of nature, while the second view over emphasized the role
Neo Malthusians theorists, who assert that the earth has no capacity to sustain the natural growth of populations, argue that the environment on earth sets limits but does not determine the character and direction of human decisions. They argue that the notion is that the earth has limited productive capacity and the file spectre of famine that comes as a result of climate change is just around the Conner.
24A UNDP report on the impact of climate change on agriculture points out that climate change poses risks to the survival of the people in Darfur area because their traditional lifestyles contribute very little to greenhouse gas emissions.44Human needs theorists on the other hand argue that the primary cause of conflicts is the peoples drive to meet their unmet needs on the individual group and societal level.45 Climate change is obviously as a reaction or as a result of human activities in the industries that end up emitting greenhouse gases which in turn deplete the ozone layer and thus why areas such as Sudan have perennial and severe droughts.
Theoretical Framework. This study used the Neo Malthusian Theory. The original Malthusian model focused on the demand for food. While the model is no longer credited in its original form elements of it can be found or built on ideas of resource constraints. Thomas Malthus is the main proponent of the theory and he argues that population growth would exceed resource growth, leading to catastrophic checks on overpopulation. This would occur because population grew exponentially while food supply grew arithmetically. The theory assumes that without population control, the population would be reduced by catastrophes such as famine which is as a result of climate change or war according to the theory.
The temptation to assume to a direct, causal relationship between population and food supply is characteristic of the neo-Malthusian treatment of every aspect of the population debate. The related issues of natural resources and environment are no different in this respect. The main argument of neo Malthusian model is that resources are scarce on earth as a result of climate change that are as a result of the human activities and the increasing population growth that increase resource consumption per capita combine and deplete these resources; the result is competition and this is seen through conflicts.

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