The triple threat of climate change, conflict, and health emergencies: A deadly mix for the most vulnerable in fragile settings
Climate change is not a distant threat. It is already dramatically affecting vulnerable people across the globe. In particular, the changing climate is having devastating consequences for people living in conflict situations and those who don’t have access to basic health care due to damaged infrastructure, which is causing a rise in deadly diseases.
Somalia has suffered through an erratic cycle of droughts and floods in recent years, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation further complicated by three decades of armed conflict. People have limited time to adapt because the shocks are so frequent and severe. Kaha Ahmed, a herder in Somalia: “It has not rained in 3 years in this place we are living in. There is lack of water. There is no food. This is how things are - we are vulnerable people.”
Humanitarian organisations have also been responding to flooding in South Sudan and across the Sahel; devastating cyclones in Madagascar and Mozambique; and severe drought in the Horn of Africa. The climate crisis worsens health and humanitarian crises.
The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mirjana Spoljaric said in her latest visit to the Sahel: “It’s a region that is gravely affected by armed violence, but at the same time is heavily impacted by the impact of climate change. There has been a growing displacement of civilian populations. Right now, there are about 4.5 million displaced in the whole region.”
“In addition to the conflict, we were confronted with the consequences of the drought. The animals didn't have any food and we didn't have anymore, so we left Burkina before things got worse,” said Sallah Ag Yehya, Chief of the Kadji, a site for internally displaced persons in Mali.
The ICRC is alarmed by the current reality and projections for the future. Our teams see droughts, floods, insect plagues and changing rainfall patterns which can all jeopardise food production and people’s means of survival. More extreme and powerful weather events such as cyclones are destroying essential health infrastructure. Changing patterns of deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue and cholera are challenging humanitarian responses. Conflict and violence increase the need for emergency health assistance while also limiting the capacity of health facilities.
The ICRC is calling on world leaders to live up to their commitments under the Paris Agreement and the Agenda 2030 and ensure that vulnerable and conflict-affected people are adequately supported to adapt to a changing climate. World leaders must collectively find solutions and ensure access to adequate climate finance in challenging environments. Leaving people behind is not an option.
Location: Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Kenya, Yemen
Date of Filming: May-October 2022
Camera: Multiple, ICRC
Copyright: ICRC access all
On Screen Credit: ICRC written or logo
Image 1: In Hodeidah, flooding swept through Al-Yabli camp for internally displaced people, east of Al-Khawkha District in Hodeida. The water washed away people’s makeshift huts, belongings and killed livestock.
Image 2 and 3: Internally displaced people have been left even more vulnerable at Al-Qahfa Al-Hamra camps in Taiz. The ground around them has eroded as a result of torrential rains and floods, forcing them to move their tents.
00:00 Various aerial shots of the floods, swollen tributary of the Benue River, Euro Dadi Village showing flood waters on the horizon.
00:34 Boyomoso Eli paddles a boat through the flood waters across what used to be footpaths.
SOUNDBITE Boyomoso Eli, Wuro Dadi resident (English)
00:55 “This is my farm. It’s about two hectares of corn. I lost it all, due to this flood. It’s a disaster.”
01:05 “We expected floods before, upward of September. But this flood started around August. And then our farms, can’t withstand the flood. It really affects us, because it destroys our farms. It affected me so much, because all the resources I had, I put them in my farm. So, I am left with no other option than to depend on God and to wait and see what God will do again.”
01:39 SOUNDBITE ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric (French)
“On s'approche de la COP 27 et comme je l'ai dit avant, les humanitaires ne peuvent pas résoudre les problèmes qui nous amènent le changement climatique. Mais il est urgemment nécessaire d'investir dans des systèmes d'adaptation dans ces pays pour que les gens puissent créer des sources de revenus, créer un environnement qui leur permet de sortir de ce cercle vicieux entre violence, pauvreté et situation humanitaire.”
02:16 Various shots of Sosso Koira Camp
02:25 SOUNDBITE Sallah Ag Yehya, Chief of the Kadji Internally Displaced Persons site.
“In addition to the conflict, we were confronted with the consequences of the drought. The animals didn't have any food and we didn't have any more, so we left Burkina before things got worse.”
03:02: Various Shots. ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric speaking with members of community at the Sosso Koira Camp.
03:24 SOUNDBITE ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric (English)
“I came to Gao because Gao in many ways is a mirror of what is currently happening in the Sahel. It's a region that is gravely affected by armed violence, but at the same time is heavily impacted by the impact of climate change. There has been growing displacement of civilian populations. Right now there are about 4.5 million displaced in the whole region. I've sat with women who came with their children, sometimes even had to bury their children who lost their lives as they were fleeing from the villages. They have lost their families, their husbands, their brothers, their fathers. They find themselves at the outskirts of Gao with nothing, nothing but the roof of a tent. And sometimes even not that they receive humanitarian assistance, but it's very limited. But most importantly, they don't see a way out. They don't know where to go. We have to break this vicious circle of violence and climate change, preventing these people from living in the land where they used to grow up.”
04:42 A long shot of a goat walking past carcasses of goats.
05:00 Medium shots of Kaha Ahmed bottle feeding a goat
05:14 Medium shot of two women giving goats some grass.
05:21 SOUNDBITE Kaha Ahmed, Herder (in Somali):
“It has not rained in 3 years in this place we are living in. There is lack of water. There is no food. This is how things are - we are vulnerable people.”
05:38 Long shot of a lorry driving though the market street.
05:43 SOUNDBITE Halwa Osman Jamac, Market seller (in Somali):
“There’s no money in circulation. Because of the drought, people don’t have livestock to sell in the market hence no income.”
05:50 SOUNDBITE Juerg Eglin, Head of the ICRC, Somalia (in English):
“Drought is not new to Somalia, but it happens more frequently now and more severely, and it affects people and communities much more severely than it used to affect them in the past. On the one hand, we are all talking about drought, about the conditions of the livestock, the farmers, lack of access to water; this is one important element, but the other element as I said before is conflict, is violence, is uncertainty, communities are destabilized, people have to flee their homes, so when we hear today about displacements caused by drought - that is one big and important element, but we also have seen and still keep seeing displacement caused by armed conflict.”
06:37 The road leading from Nyala, the capital of South Darfur region, to Um Zaiedd village. The wadi was flooded after the heavy rains.
07:00 The view of Um Zaiedd village after heavy rains.
07:10 Muadah Ali Mohammed, Um Zaiedd resident, enters her house recently flooded.
07:26 SOUNDBITE Muadah Ali Mohammed, Um Zaiedd resident (in Arabic)
07:26 “We have been seriously affected. My rooms, my house was damaged. All the furniture was damaged and carried away by water. This room is now completely destroyed.”
07:37 “Yesterday, that water came inside the house, it broke everything and now I have many cracks in the walls. All my beds are broken, and all my jerry cans have been carried away by the flow. I didn’t manage to recover anything. And now we sit in the water.”
07:50 “I didn’t manage to recover anything. And now we sit in the water.”
07:57 Muadah Ali Mohammed’s family washing dishes outside their house.
08:15 Houses destroyed by the flood.
08:25 Earth drying up after the flood.
08:34 SOUNDBITE Murtada Adam Fadul, South Darfur Branch director of the South Sudan Red Crescent Society in Arabic
08:34 “This season is different from the past seasons.”
08:38 “Our oldest people say that nothing like this happened since the 80s.”
08:45 “This year there is much more water. In southern Darfur rain rates this fall are above the normal rates”
08:56 Variety of wide shots show the landscape and farms in Awiniya. Wide shot shows the dry and dead trees in Ali Ebrahim Al-Taleb`s farm in Awiniya
09:28 A destroyed tower water tank in Awiniya
09:44 Driving around Awiniya, the the effects of sand and dust storms due to desertification are clearly visible.
09:46 Farmer Ali Ebrahim Al-Taleb walk through his farm in Awinyia.
09:52 SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Ali Ebrahim Al-Taleb Farmer in Awinyia
09:52 “The area was badly harmed during the years of displacement from 2011 to 2017.”
10:03 “When I returned from displacement, all the trees were dead and dry, except for some olive trees, only about 10% of them survived. All the other trees, including the almonds and even the scrubs, were gone, there is nothing left of them. I started planting trees all over again.”
10:29 “I started planting trees again, from scratch, as if I were in my first year of farming. But the harsh weather did not help at all, the past three years have been drought years, and I had to water the trees by my own efforts, something I couldn't afford, so the trees didn't grow and didn't bloom.”
10:53 Various shots of livestock carcasses.
11:37 Soundbite: Dubey Ibrahim Werar - Resident – Garissa, Kenya
“I am 78 years old. I have not seen a severe drought like this in all my life. For the last three years, there has not been a single drop of rain. Even you can see how things are looking here, all these houses have been abandoned by their people. Few of us have remained here. People come to visit us asking how we are doing; we haven’t seen a dire situation than this one before. When the drought happened, everyone who was running a shop sold everything to buy hay and maize for their livestock. Whenever we go to them, they tell us they have nothing to give us since they sold everything to cater for the animals”
12:30 Various shots of women searching for water in Garissa, Kenya.
12:55 Various portrait shot of an elderly man.
13:00 Soundbite: Mohammed Noor Afey – Community Elder - Garissa, Kenya
“The drought has really affected our livestock as we have lost quite substantial number of livestock for the past three years and this has taken away our economic lifeline, we have not received rain for the last three years and communities are using water vendor as means of survival, our animals have migrated to Habaswein. What is left here are people with no livestock. The only person who can afford to buy something is the one with livestock nearby through selling his or her livestock. We don’t have markets where we can buy food and we don’t have farms. The only income we have is our livestock and we’ve lost that.
14:29 Various shots of livestock looking for pasture.
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Established in 1863, the ICRC operates worldwide helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war. A neutral, independent and impartial organization, its mandate stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949.