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  • Writer's pictureNsedu Awatt

Climate Change Adaptation and Conflict in Nigeria


Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, with far-reaching impacts on the environment, societies, and economies. As a populous and resource-rich country, Nigeria is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. As temperatures rise, sea levels increase, and extreme weather events become more frequent, Nigeria faces numerous challenges adapting to these changes. There exists an intricate relationship between climate change adaptation and conflict in Nigeria. Thus shedding light on the interconnectedness of these two issues is critical. The vulnerability of different regions within Nigeria differs, but no area is immune to the effects of climate change and conflict. Various factors have influenced conflict in Nigeria, and climate change has emerged as a significant driver exacerbating existing tensions and creating new sources of conflict. It is important to note that while climate change acts as a catalyst for conflict, it interacts with other political, social, and economic factors in complex ways.

Climate change related Conflict in Nigeria

Adaptation is crucial to mitigate the impacts of climate change and build resilience. Several adaptation strategies are being implemented in Nigeria at the national, regional, and community levels. These include sustainable agriculture practices, reforestation and afforestation projects, water management initiatives, early warning systems, and promoting renewable energy sources. Highlighting successful adaptation projects and their outcomes can provide valuable insights for future endeavors. Climate change exacerbates social, economic, and political tensions, creating a fertile ground for conflict. In Nigeria, climate-related issues have been linked to conflicts over scarce resources, such as water and land. Competition for these resources can lead to clashes between herders and farmers, communal violence, and displacement. Additionally, changing weather patterns can disrupt livelihoods, exacerbating poverty and inequality, which further fuel conflict dynamics.

For instance, as droughts become more frequent and rainfall patterns become erratic, water scarcity intensifies, leading to conflicts between farmers and herders over access to water sources for irrigation and livestock grazing. Disputes over land ownership and control also arise as desertification and floods force communities to migrate and compete for limited arable land. Climate change-induced changes in precipitation patterns and the availability of grazing lands have intensified tensions between farmers and herders in Nigeria. Diminishing water resources and shrinking pastures have also led to conflicts over grazing areas and crop damage by livestock. These clashes often escalate into violent confrontations, resulting in loss of lives, displacement, and economic disruptions.

As climate change impacts become more pronounced, communities in Nigeria are increasingly displaced by extreme weather events, such as floods, storms, and desertification. Forced migration and the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) into new areas can strain resources and trigger tensions between host communities and displaced populations. This situation heightens the risk of conflict over limited resources and livelihood opportunities. Climate change-related disruptions to agriculture, fishing, and other livelihood activities pose significant economic challenges, particularly for vulnerable communities heavily dependent on natural resources. Declining crop yields, loss of fisheries, and reduced availability of water resources contribute to poverty, food insecurity, and economic instability. Scarce resources and livelihood insecurity exacerbate divisions along ethnic and religious lines. Climate-related conflicts intertwine with pre-existing disputes, leading to violence and communal clashes. In the northeastern part of Nigeria, climate change impacts have played a role in the rise of the Boko Haram insurgency. The region has experienced desertification, land degradation, and water scarcity, contributing to economic hardships and marginalization. These conditions have created fertile ground for recruitment and radicalization, intertwining environmental factors with security challenges.

Efforts towards promoting climate change adaptation and combating conflict

The Nigerian Government has tried to encourage climate change adaptation and combat conflict through various government initiatives. Here are some notable past government efforts in Nigeria

  • National Policy on Climate Change (2013): The Nigerian government developed the National Policy on Climate Change to provide a strategic framework for addressing climate change impacts. The policy aimed to promote climate change adaptation and mitigation measures across sectors, enhance institutional capacity, and mainstream climate change considerations into development planning.

  • National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change (NASPA-CCN): The NASPA-CCN was launched in 2013 as a roadmap for climate change adaptation in Nigeria. It outlined priority actions in key sectors such as agriculture, water resources, health, and infrastructure to enhance resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts.

  • Ecological Fund: The Nigerian government established the Ecological Fund to address environmental challenges related to climate change. The fund supports projects and initiatives to mitigate and adapt to environmental degradation, erosion, and flooding, which can exacerbate conflicts in affected regions.

The Nigerian government has also tried to address conflicts arising from various factors, including resource scarcity and competition exacerbated by climate change impacts. Initiatives such as peacebuilding dialogues, mediation processes, and community engagement have promoted conflict resolution, restored peace, and mitigated tension. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has played a crucial role in disaster management, including climate-related emergencies. The agency provides relief and rehabilitation services to communities affected by climate-related disasters, helping communities recover and rebuild after conflicts and natural disasters. The Nigerian government has also collaborated with international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and World Bank to access technical expertise, funding, and capacity-building support for climate change adaptation and conflict resolution initiatives.

While these efforts demonstrate progress, challenges remain in Nigeria's implementing and sustaining climate change adaptation and conflict resolution measures. Continual commitment, adequate resource allocation, stakeholder engagement, and addressing governance and institutional gaps are essential for achieving lasting impacts and building Nigeria's sustainable and resilient future. Nigeria's climate change adaptation and conflict prevention involve multiple stakeholders, including government agencies, civil society organizations, communities, and the private sector. Collaboration and coordination among these actors are crucial for developing comprehensive and inclusive strategies. Empowering local communities, engaging in participatory decision-making processes, and ensuring the inclusion of marginalized groups are key elements for successful outcomes.


In the future, in promoting climate change adaptation and reducing conflict, Government needs to integrate climate change considerations into national development plans, set emission reduction targets, and develop adaptation strategies. Legislation should be enacted to enforce sustainable practices, promote renewable energy, and ensure the equitable distribution of resources. They should also allocate budgetary resources, establish climate funds, and attract international climate finance. Governments can also promote public-private partnerships to leverage additional resources and investments. By taking on these roles, governments will create an enabling environment for climate change adaptation, conflict prevention, and sustainable development. Strong leadership, political will, and effective governance are essential for implementing policies, fostering collaboration, and mobilizing resources to address the interconnected challenges of climate change and conflict.


Climate change adaptation and conflict in Nigeria are intertwined challenges that require urgent attention. By understanding the complex nexus between climate change impacts, adaptation efforts, and conflict dynamics, Nigeria can develop resilient and sustainable pathways for the future. There is a need to raise awareness about the issue and inspire action toward integrated solutions that promote environmental sustainability, social harmony, and economic development. Tackling climate change and conflict is not a single-solution endeavor but a collective effort that requires the commitment of individuals, communities, and decision-makers at all levels. Solutions to climate change-related conflicts require integrated approaches that address the immediate causes of conflicts and the underlying vulnerabilities that climate change exacerbates. Addressing climate change and conflict in Nigeria needs a holistic and conflict-sensitive approach. Recognizing the interconnectedness of these issues is essential to design effective adaptation strategies that reduce the risk of conflict and promote social cohesion.

Integrating conflict prevention and peacebuilding measures into adaptation initiatives can contribute to long-term stability and sustainability. Efforts should focus on sustainable resource management, conflict resolution mechanisms, strengthening governance, and investing in adaptive strategies that build resilience at community and national levels. Additionally, addressing the root causes of conflict, such as poverty, inequality, and governance issues, is crucial to mitigate the impacts of climate change on conflict dynamics in Nigeria.


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