Countries in the East and Horn of Africa have expressed concern about the impending humanitarian crisis resulting from climate change-induced migration in the region.
The issue was raised by 12 countries from the region with backing from intergovernmental organizations including the African Union, International Organization for Migration-IOM, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development-IGAD. They are currently attending a three-day high-level regional inter-ministerial meeting on migration, environment, and climate change which is taking place in Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala.
Speaking at the conference, Beatrice Anywar, Uganda’s Environment Minister, noted that on a continental and regional scale, it is becoming more and more obvious that extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions are causing both internal and cross-border movements and displacement.
Anyway, he added that with migration, the environment, and climate change increasingly becoming intertwined issues, there is a demand for immediate action from all state and non-state players around the world.
Dereje Wakjira, the director of the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPLAD), noted that while African nations make the smallest contributions to global warming, the continent has over time been hit hardest by the effects of climate change.
According to Wakjira, it has been recognized that climate change has been causing dislikes that are driving people out of their local towns. While individual member states have attempted to address the issue, according to him, it is now obvious that both a regional and global solution is required.
Muhammad Abdiker, IOM regional director for the East and Horn of Africa, also noted climate change is slowly becoming a major driver of migration in the region, but it seems to be neglected. Abdiker stressed that their data shows that in 2021 alone, 1.2 million people in the region were displaced by climate change-related factors like floods, droughts, and landslides, among others.
According to Abdiker, the relationship between migration and climate in the east and horn of Africa region requires special attention because it is causing conflicts, widespread hunger, poverty, forced relocation, loss of vital infrastructure, and mortality.
The concerns have been raised at a time when environmental stresses brought on by climate change, such as droughts and flooding, imperil ecological resilience, alter migration patterns, disrupt crops, food production systems, and water resources, and put more strain on urban regions.
Available data from the World Bank has already raised a red alert on the issue, highlighting that by 2050, up to 38.5 million people could be compelled to move within the Lake Victoria Basin countries due to climate factors. The data, for instance, indicates that Tanzania will see the highest number of internal climate migrants, reaching 16.6 million, followed by Uganda with 12 million.
However, as the states push for recognition of the matter on a global scale, World Bank Groundswell Africa reports have already highlighted that urgent, collective action to support green, inclusive, and resilient development could reduce the scale of climate migration by 30 percent in the Lake Victoria region and as much as 60 percent in West Africa.
Anywar noted that the delegates at the conference are devoting all of their efforts to completing all consultations regarding the Joint Ministerial Declaration, which will usher in a common strategy for addressing the difficulties caused by climate-induced human mobility.
Henry Okello Oryem, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, also noted that although the delegates are focusing on climate change-induced migration, they ought to take into account the fact that migration and human mobility change, other factors in the region are also having an effect on the ecosystem and are also causing climate change.