A Climate for Conflict: https://vimeo.com/219507981

This is the 5th week that we have been in Nairobi. Some days it feels like time is going by slowly and that we have been in Nairobi for far longer than 5 weeks. We have established daily routines and are comfortable navigating our once intimidating neighbourhood. Yet, there are other days when the weeks feel like they are flying by too quickly and that we will not have a chance to experience everything we want to in Nairobi. For those who suffer from chronic FOMO (fear of missing out), I do not recommend visiting Kenya. This incredible country has too many wondrous markets, shops, events, hikes, cafes and adventures that we will not be able to see, taste and engage in everything but we are trying!

One of the events that we recently attended at a local outdoor venue, the Alchemist, was a film screening of “A Climate for Conflict”. Hosted by Foreign Correspondences’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA), this film presented the stories of Somali people who have experienced both climate change and increased conflict in the country. This film, and the elite discussion panel that followed, argue that increases in climate change and environmental degradation lead to food insecurity and, in turn, are drivers for conflict.

The film demystified the climate-conflict nexus by interviewing local people groups that have personally experienced these effects. For example, as rivers dry up and drought persists nomadic groups are beginning to become stationary in areas that have water resources. As more people flock to these sources, the struggle of water scarcity is exasperated and people become desperate to sustain their families. Additionally, the land that is suitable for grazing is burdened with ancestral tribal ownership which creates competition between the Somali people. As livestock die, hunger persists and livelihoods diminish, people search for alternative means to survival. It is not a surprise then, when Al-Shabab (the dominant extremist group in Somalia with links to al- Qaeda) offers young people food security, safety and education in exchange for their obedience and commitment to their ideology, people willingly oblige.

While this issue is complex and extends beyond the scope of this blog, it is interesting to note that while Somalia is suffering from famine, drought, and conflict, it has barely contributed to global carbon emissions. Somalia’s population is approximately 14.3 million and emitted 609 kt of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2014 ­[1]. In comparison, Canada has a population of 36.3 million yet we emitted 537,193 kt of CO2. in 2014 [2].

These numbers are not included to induce long bouts of guilt, but rather, to act as a reminder that our globe is beautifully and tragically connected. Certainly, Canada is experiencing climate change in its own capacity, but it is our Somali brothers and sisters who are also impacted by our decision to act environmentally conscious. I have personally been challenged to reduce my waste production, to walk more and drive less, to turn off the lights when I leave a room and to faithfully recycle. I would challenge you to do the same, to make small adjustments in daily life, remaining cognizant that our actions extend beyond political borders and directly impact the lives of already vulnerable populations.

[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC?view=map

[2] https://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=En&n=1F24D9EE-1

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