ClimSec Sahel

Early Warning System on Human Security in the Sahel Region: Considering Climate Impacts on Food Security and Farmer–Herder Conflicts

The population in the Sahel is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts on human security, partic-ularly food security and conflict potential. In its Fifth Assessment Report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores that simmering tensions will be intensified through shortages in food supply as well as persisting droughts. In the 1980’s the Sahel was subject to a drought period rendering entire regions dependent on food aid. In 2002, Mali suffered from a dire drought leaving three million people food insecure. Such events increase the propensity for livestock herders to mi-grate towards the more fertile sub-humid zones in the Sahel, where conflicts between this group and sedentary farmers are eminent. More than 80% of the Sahelian population works in the agricultural sector or is involved in livestock herding, underlining the potential impact of changing climatic condi-tions in the context of already strained resources.

The aim of this project is to setup an early warning system for food shortages and its implication on malnutrition, migration and conflicts. This system should identify climate-related threats, which can reduce the security situation in the Sahel region. For this an interdisciplinary team of researchers at PIK will build upon the state–of–the–art scientific assessment tools and further develop PIK’s assess-ment approaches. This new tool will be corroborate to and expand existing tools (like the FEWS NET) with respect to the covered sectors. The existing tools (e.g. FEWS NET) mainly focus on food availabil-ity and partly on food security, but neglect factors triggered by food insecurity like climate-induced human migration and/ or health issues. Thus, PIK will further develop an early warning assessment tool, which builds on these sectors (health, migration) by using PIK’s integrated assessments models and current research conducted at PIK. This assessment tool will allow recommendations for science-based political interventions in this region. Within the project, PIK will identify regions with high probability of climate-induced food shortages, which might leverage human insecurity, including health, migration and conflicts between herders and farmers in Mali and Burkina Faso. To achieve this, PIK will model and analyze the impact chain from climate change to security aspects. This includes an assessment of climate change affected weather extremes, droughts, water security, agricultural production, food security, malnutrition and human migration. This assessment will be carried out on different spatial scales: The climate signals as well as extreme weather events will be analyzed for the entire Sahel region, while the biophysical im-pacts (water availability, agriculture) will be analyzed on national scale. Finally food security, malnu-trition, migration and the conflicts of herders and farmers are considered within selected case studies(food security/farmer-herder-conflicts/early warning system).


Nov 01, 2018 until Dec 31, 2020

Funding Agency

Auswärtiges Amt