Linda Ogallo, a climate adaptation expert at the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), said drought and floods are some of the climate events that have accelerated conflicts in the Horn of Africa.
"A big block of communities in the Horn of Africa are farmers who rely on agriculture and pastoralism. Therefore, their lives are tied to climate. Any negative event leads to disruption of livelihoods and displacement that push people to new areas leading to inter-community or cross-border conflicts," said Ogallo during a virtual forum on climate change, peace and security.
She identified South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia as the countries where climate events are causing conflict.
She said South Sudan has endured the worst flooding in the past months while drought is ravaging Somalia and Kenya.
More than 800,000 people have been affected by floods in South Sudan that have caused displacements and food insecurity challenges increase conflicts between communities, according to the United Nations.
In Kenya, the movement of pastoralists in search of pasture in other areas due to drought has led to fights between communities, causing deaths.
"In Somalia, it started with drought, then desert locusts, then floods, followed by the pandemic, and now drought. It has been one extreme event after another that communities have had no chance to recover," she said.
Ogallo said the frequent climate events are putting financial strain on African governments, which now have to use development money for emergency response activities.
She said IGAD is hoping to have a coordinated mechanism for dealing with security challenges arising from climate change.
Elizabeth Carabine, the climate security advisor at the Office of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to the Horn of Africa, said climate events force people to move, increasing competition for resources and leading to conflicts.
"People displaced by climate events are more prone to conflicts that lead to instabilities. Climate change has become a threat to peace and security, and that is a discussion African governments, African Union, and other regional bodies must be prepared to have and find solutions," she said.