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This study explores the nexus between climate change and political conflicts in Africa with focus on migration and refugees in the continent. The analysis of this study is anchored on system theory. Climate change, whether human induced or natural, precipitates environmental disasters like erosion, flood, typhoon, hurricane, drought, desertification, etc which can kill people, displace them or force them to migrate to other areas. Climate change will cause scarcity of the basic resources like food, fresh-water supplies, arable land for agricultural activities and habitations that sustain life for people around the world, especially in African countries which are already vulnerable to climate variability and have least capacity to respond. This study argues that severe climate change disasters can lead to migration of affected people to other areas and conflict could erupt in receiving areas as competition over scarce resources developed, particularly in Africa where there is low adaptation capacity to climate change hazards. It further argues that climate change could lead directly to conflict e.g. Durfur crisis. The study is an attempt to beam searchlight on the root cause of some conflicts in Africa. The empirical evidences gathered show that climate change has been implicated in some of the conflicts in the African continent. The study discovered that there is a link between climate change induced migration, conflict and refugees in the African continent. It also discovered that inability and negligence of governments of African states to manage impacts of climate change are often responsible for the outbreak of conflicts.


                                         CHAPTER ONE



Conflict is the incompatibility of goals and values between two or more parties in a relationship, combined with the attempt to control each other and antagonistic feelings towards each other. It is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests. Conflict usually exist whenever incompatible activities occur. An activity that is incompatible with another is one that prevents, blocks or interferes with the occurrence or effectiveness of the second activity.

Climate change has the potentials of engendering conflicts and snowball the existing staggering population of refugees in the African continent.

Most analyses on the impacts of climate change that have influenced United Nation Frame Work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreements focus on medium- to long-term projections of carbon emissions and forecasting models of global warming, and cover mainly countries and regions for which relevant data are readily available. This leaves out most developing countries and regions, particularly Africa, due to unavailable data and trajectories. From an African perspective, this omission is serious and costly. As the poorest continent, Africa is considered most susceptible to climate change due to its vulnerability and inability to cope with the physical, human and socioeconomic consequences of climate extremes. Due to the limited relevance of past and current global climate change agreements to Africa’s climate and environmental problems, the hardest hit region has benefited least from the international climate change regime, which relates almost exclusively to funding and investments for green, low carbon growth. For example, Africa’s participation to date in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and carbon trading arrangements under the Kyoto Protocol has been minimal.

The incompatibility or differences may exist in reality or may only be perceived by the parties involved. Nonetheless, the opposing actions and the hostile emotions are very real hallmark between people in all kind of human relationship and in al social settings. As a result of the wide range of potential differences between people, the absence of conflict usually signals the absence of meaningful interaction. A conflict can be as small as a perceived disagreement or as large as war. It can originate in the person, between two or more people or between two or more groups. Conflict by itself is neither good nor bad but the manner in which conflict is handled determines whether it is constructive or destructive. A conflict is different from competition and cooperation because in competitive situations, the two or more individuals or parties have mutually inconsistent goals as either party tries to reach its goals, it undermine the attempt of the others to reach theirs. Therefore, competitive situations will by their nature cause conflict. Conflict can also occur in cooperative situation, in which two or more individuals or parties have consistent goals because the manner in which one party tries to reach its goal may undermine the other individual or party. A clash of interests, values, action or directions often sparks a conflict and conflict is also seen as the existence of the clash. The world ‘conflict’ is applicable from the instant the clash occurs. Even when it is described as a potential conflict, it is implying that there is already conflict of direction even though a clash has not occurred. As a result, conflict can occur whenever there is interaction. Leo Otoide describe this situation in the international system thus: When states interact there is competition for power and prestige and in the process, the international system elicits a picture of perpetual conflict, of survival of the fittest, where the desire for power and influence determines the attitudes of states and the course of events. Conflict occurs in different levels, the first is interpersonal conflict. Interpersonal conflict is when two people have incompatible needs; goals, or approaches in their relationship.5 Communication breakdown is often an important source of interpersonal conflict and learning communication skills is valuable in preventing and resolving such difficulties. At the same time, very real differences occur between people that cannot be resolved by any amount of improved communication. Personality conflict refers to very strong differences in motives, values or styles in dealing with people that are not resolvable. For instance, if both parties in a relationship have a high need for power and both want to be dominant in the relationship, there is no way for both to be satisfied, and a power struggle ensures common tactics used in interpersonal power struggles includes the exaggerated used of reward and punishments, deception and evasion, threats and emotional blackmail and flattery or integration. Unresolved power conflict usually recycles and escalates to the point of relationship breakdown and termination.


Climate is a global phenomenon that affects all countries and regions in the world to a different extent. The general trend suggests an increase in global surface temperatures, but climate data of the twentieth first century shows that Africa is and will continuously be warming faster than the global average. Scholars are certain that there will be no generalized, single effect of climate change/variability on Africa, because of the long geographical stretch of the continent. Climate change, due to natural gas emissions into the atmosphere, will particularly affect the variability of environment and water resources globally. Considering the expectation of more frequent droughts and floods, the forecast of river flows and its interaction with extreme variation in precipitation becomes crucial. In recent studies climate scientists are debating if the current models are giving a sufficient estimate of future precipitation, and argue even that current ‘models seem to underestimate the observed increase in heavy precipitation with warming’ (Min et al. 2011: 378). Migration which is a dynamic component of population with reference to movement of people from one geographical area to another, has been on the increase in Africa as immigrants tends to seek for greener pasture and this poses political conflicts in the region.

The researcher intend to look at the possible causes of migration to the region with respect to climate change and political conflict in Africa.


The main objective of this study is on climate change and political conflict in Africa, focusing more on migration and refugees in the continent. The researcher intend to outline the following sub-objectives during the course of the study;

  1. To examine the link between climate change, migration, governance and security threats in respect to political conflicts in Africa.
  2. To analyse the response of the United Nations and other African States in formulating climate change policies to ensure future security and prevent conflict.
  3. To identify if there are any available policy options and recommends mitigating measures to counter the perceived and real effects of climate change in Africa.
  4. To ascertain if there is any significant relationship between climate change and political conflict in Africa.
  5. To proffer possible solutions to the identified challenges associated with migration, climate change and political conflict in Africa.


H0: there is no link between climate change, migration, governance and security threats in Africa.

H1: there is a link between climate change, migration, governance and security threats in Africa.

H0: there is no significant relationship between climate change, migration and political conflict in Africa.

H2: there is a significant relationship between climate change, migration and political conflict in Africa.


It is expected that at the end of the study the findings will provide much needed inputs on the adverse effects of climate change, migration and political conflicts to policy makers, planners and institutions of learning too. Specifically; the findings will be of immense benefit to United Nation Frame Work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as it will help in checkmating lapses and disasters caused by companies operating in the region. The study will help to educate the mind of every individuals, policy makers and the government to see the need to formulate policies for integrated rural development to check rural-urban drift in our society. To the United Nations and other African communities in tackling the problems that force people to leave their region, and so bridging the development gap and increasing the rate of climate change and political conflicts in Africa. Finally, the findings will be of importance to researchers/students intending to work on related topics on climate change and political conflict.


The scope of this study centers on the impact of climate change and migration on political conflict, particularly the kind of migration that we are principally interested in in this study is migration from one continent to another, which is the movement of people from country side to another country side. The researcher encountered some constraint in the course of the study which include:

Time factor: The time allocated to the researcher during the period of the study was limited coupled with lectures and exams.

Financial constraint: the finance at the disposal of the researcher during the course of the study wasn’t sufficient enough to run the expenses of the research work.


Climate change: Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have been identified as primary causes of ongoing climate change, often referred to as global warming.

Political conflict: A political conflict is a positional difference regarding values relevant to a society – the conflict items – between at least two decisive and directly involved actors, which is being carried out using observable and interrelated conflict means that lie beyond established regulatory procedures and threaten a core.

Migration: This means the movement of people from one place to another. Teriba (1982) sees migration as the movement of people from one civil division to another.

Settlement: This is a place where people live.

Emigration: It is the movement of people out of a country.

Immigrant: These are people that move into a country.

Emigrants: These are people that engage in the movement out of a country.



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