in Africa

Countries emitting the least greenhouse gases are among the most threatened by climate change and related insecurity. Many African nations - already among the poorest on earth - are facing extreme weather conditions, spiralling temperatures and rising sea levels. These shocks and stresses are undermining food security, contributing to population displacement, and driving unrest and instability.

Drought Somalia

The relationships between climate change and insecurity are complex and compounding. Changes in temperature, rainfall, soil moisture and water acidity can all serve as “threat multipliers” for political and social violence. When access to food and water become more constrained, tensions can intensify between farmers, herders, rural dwellers and urban residents. 

A new series of studies from the Igarapé Institute explores the risks presented by climate change, deteriorating socio-economic conditions and organized and interpersonal violence in Africa. The focus is on the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, among the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change. The Institute also shines a light on innovative solutions to mitigate, adapt and build resilience to climate-related threats.

Al Shabaab near a relief site in Somalia

Greater Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa faces a complex crisis involving climate change, political instability and severe under-development. Recurrent droughts and flash floods, rising temperatures and increasing competition for diminishing arable land are exacerbating the problem. Across Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and other countries, climate change is contributing to migration and displacement, tensions over water and grazing, and heightening the risk of organized violence. The Igarapé Institute is working with EarthTime and the governments of Switzerland and Kenya to visualize the climate-security challenge.


Get to know the empirical relationships between climate shocks and stresses, food insecurity and social unrest and instability. Watch the video below:

The Greater Horn of Africa is warming faster than most other parts of the planet. Mean temperatures are expected to rise faster than the global average – some 2.5ºC by 2050 and nearly 5ºC by 2.100.


New concerns about the relationship between climate and security are emerging in the diplomatic agenda, including in the United Nations Security Council.


Get to know the threats

See in maps the latest scientific evidence of what's at stake in the Greater Horn of Africa

Herder-farmer tensions in Mali   –   Source: MudflapDC/Flickr

The Sahel

Across West Africa, rising sea levels, disruption of water availability and changes in mobility are deepening competition over resources. In a context of underdevelopment and uneven provision of services, these shifts are giving rise to cross-border and internal population displacement and the sharpening of inter-communal tensions. 

The Igarapé Institute is working with EarthTime, ICRC and the governments of Switzerland and Kenya to visualize the climate-security challenge. The Institute launched several data visualizations in 2021 to highlight the scope and scale of the threat, as well as emerging solutions. 

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