The Horn of Africa region makes a negligible contribution to climate change, but it is highly exposed to climate impacts. Drought is the biggest concern in a region where many people remain food insecure — and intermittent floods amplify this threat.
Food insecurity and loss of livelihoods can undermine the legitimacy of state authorities. Unfortunately, those with limited access to food and jobs are more likely to join armed opposition groups. Changing climate patterns can also encourage migration, increasing tensions between farmers and pastoralists over fertile land.
The more we understand climate-security risks, the better we are able to tackle them. That is why Germany is working with the United Nations on a pilot project for a regional assessment of climate-related security risks in the Horn of Africa.
The good news is that we know which solutions can make a real difference. USAID has run programmes in the region which built sustainable livelihoods and reinforced social ties between and within communities. This has helped people to cope better with both conflict and climate-related shocks and stresses.
When different groups worked together to rehabilitate water ponds in the Borana Zone of Ethiopia, they not only increased the water supply for everybody but also stopped thinking of these resources as “contested ponds”.
In short, peacebuilding boosts resilience, and resilient communities are more peaceful. The international community needs to invest into establishing such virtuous cycles.