Climate change is a conflict multiplier in South Sudan, where tensions remain high since the outbreak of civil war in 2013. A report by the UN and NGOs shows that conflicts tend to occur after floods or droughts, when local men are susceptible to being lured into militias.
The UK-funded Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) program set up early warning systems, weather monitoring tools, field schools to teach farmers best practices, and seed stores to preserve and exchange crop seeds in the event of climate shocks. It also established 17 environment clubs in schools for students to discuss climate issues and plant trees, for example, with the minister of education keen to roll out such initiatives into the national curriculum, said Kingston. An assessment of the project found that people felt more resilient to climate shocks after joining farmer groups, better managing their land and making savings, said Suzanne Philips of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Peace Engineering Takeaway
As well as equipping communities with better tools and responses to climate threats, the project sought to bring together tribes traditionally divided by conflict. Other outcomes of the project include communities becoming more self-sufficient and relying less on international aid, said Kingston, with other villages replicating some of the successful activities. Although fragile states face huge social and economic problems, protecting people from natural disasters can be done and should be attempted despite the practical difficulties, U.N. officials have recently said. Conflict-torn countries may lack functioning governments, but pockets can be identified where it is possible to work with communities to reduce the risks of floods, earthquakes and other hazards, according to Robert Glasser, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.