Thursday, June 9, 2011

US group warns Nigeria on climate change fallout

Ifedayo Adebayo in (Nigeria): Due to long-term neglect of paying serious attention to climate change, Nigeria's climate is likely to see growing shifts in temperature, rainfall, storms, and sea levels throughout the 21st century. Also, government reports and World Health Organisation figures show that at least 1,600 Nigerians died in 20,000 floods over a decade.

The climatic challenges, if unaddressed, could throw already stressed resources such as land and water into even shorter supply, a report by the United States Institute of Peace has revealed, warning that Nigeria needs to consider the potential of climate change to fuel violence as the country figures out how to adapt.

The report which was authored by Aaron Sayne, who is the West Africa Programme Director of the Transnational Crisis Project and also a practising attorney, who has worked on oil, conflict, and economic governance issues in Nigeria since 2005, says that "President Goodluck Jonathan's government needs to initiate a serious programme of research and policy discussion before taking major adaptive steps." According to Mr Sayne, "A basic causal mechanism links climate change with violence in Nigeria. Under it, poor responses to climatic shifts create shortages of resources such as land and water. Shortages are followed by negative secondary impacts, such as more sickness, hunger, and joblessness. Poor responses to these, in turn, open the door to conflict."

The group, an independent institution established and funded by the US Congress, in its report states that "as things stand, while at least 70 billion cubic feet of gas go up in smoke each year - roughly the annual gas usage of 23 cities the size of Washington, DC, or all of Brazil - 150 million Nigerians share, unequally, less than 4,000 megawatts.

In the words of Mr Sayne: "Government and private actors also need to ensure that particular adaptive responses do not themselves fuel violence but actively help build peace. Successful adaptation measures will be crosscutting in design and impact, based on inclusive planning and implementation, steer clear of political patronage traps, and confront political and scientific uncertainty….

From NOAA, satellite imagery showing gas flaring in Nigeria

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