A new kind of climate refugee is emerging in the Sahel : Goats and Soda : NPR

Conflicts driven by the changing climate — amid growing competition for natural resources — are increasingly common in the Sahel. Not only are they causing large numbers of people to cross inhospitable territories, but they are starting to reshape the way communities access food and water in the wider region.

Competition for resources has become an increasingly common reason for people to abandon their homes in the vast swathe of the African continent to the south of the Sahara desert, known as the Sahel, according to Brice Degla, head of the UNHCR’s efforts to support the Cameroonian communities in Chad. “Climate change is not a reason to grant refugee status” under the current U.N. definition, he acknowledges, but still he has seen a “growing situation where climate change is the root cause of the clashes between communities.” And that’s why Haoua has refugee status.

The U.N. estimates there are more than half a million refugees in Chad this year, who have crossed over the landlocked country’s borders from several neighboring nations for a variety of reasons.

“You have displaced populations who are moving because of armed conflict,” says Degla. “But we have also people moving within the country, because they have lack of water, they can no longer crop in the area they used to crop, because actually conflict forced them to move” – or because the reality of the climate meant they could not provide for their families from the small parcels of land where they once were able to grow crops.

A new kind of climate refugee is emerging in the Sahel : Goats and Soda : NPR