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Changes in climate trends already impacting livelihoods and food security in the Sahel and West Africa

Joint Statement by United Nations Environment Programme, International Organization for Migration,Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations University and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel

Joint study calls for major investments in climate change adaptation to reduce the risk of conflict and forced migration

Durban, 5 December 2011 – New evidence of changing climate trends in the Sahel and West Africa and their potentially profound implications for food security and regional stability has been released today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, adding to the pressure on governments to stay on a course to reach a new international climate agreement.

A joint study has analysed regional trends in temperature, rainfall, droughts and flooding over the past 40 years and their implications for the availability of natural resources, livelihoods, migration and conflict in 17 West African countries from the Atlantic coast to Chad.

The analysis detects significant changes in regional climatic conditions, including an overall rise in mean seasonal temperature from 1970 to 2006 of approximately 1 °C, with a greater increase of between 1.5°C to 2°C observed in far eastern Chad and northern Mali and Mauritania.

The study shows that the frequency of floods and the area covered by flooding have increased in parts of the region over the past 24 years, for example with large areas of southern Burkina Faso, western Niger and northern Nigeria experiencing up to 10 floods during this period.

The report, Livelihood Security: Climate Change, Migration and Conflict in the Sahel, uses an innovative mapping process to identify 19 "climate hotspots" where climatic changes have been the most severe and which warrant focused adaptation planning and other follow-up activities.

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