In late 2019 and early 2020, DanChurchAid, Norwegian Church Aid and ACT Alliance commissioned local research in Mali in Western Africa, and Somalia, in the Horn of Africa. In our research, we set out to explore how ordinary people are experiencing the combined effects of climate change and conflict. The situation for men and women, right now, is dire. In Somalia, we were told: We used to farm and till the land for ages, now we no longer farm throughout, we depend on relief food and food aid by agencies, recurring droughts and floods have devastated our crop fields. Millions of people in Mali and Somalia have been displaced from their homes, by climate disasters or by conflict. Others struggle to survive on the land.
Yet, despite the suffering, there is hope. In spite of the unthinkable circumstances in which they live, hundreds of people took the time to engage with us. They talked to us about what needs to be done to build resilience in their area, and how adaptation measures are creating, or could create, a better understanding between groups of people.
Of course, undertaking climate change measures in violent contexts is extremely challenging. However, within the larger body of work exploring the links between climate change and conflict, there is growing interest in exploring how peacebuilding and climate change action could be better combined.5 Through our research, we explored this question: how can we make climate action a tool for peace?
Below is a synthesis of the key findings which emerged from our research. We then present a chapter on our research in Mali, followed by our research in Somalia.
Finally, we conclude with some recommendations arising.