The role of climate change in conflict and migration in Mali

In August 2018, Canadian Armed Forces personnel were deployed to Mali to support the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission for a 12-month mission. Environmental factors and conflicts over land use have been significant factors in the emergence and persistence of conflict in Mali. Severe droughts in the late 1980s triggered high levels of rural out-migration. Migration between rural and urban areas for socio-economic reasons is common. However, adverse climate events have changed the patterns and duration of short-term population movements. Drier conditions in a changing climate could depress crop yields and fodder for livestock. Studies on the conflict in Mali conclude that climate events, such as drought, do not directly cause violence and conflict but can contribute to it. Promoting better governance and adaptive capacity in rural areas is essential for the long-term success of international interventions in Mali. This includes land-tenure reforms that recognize rural small holders and programming that balances the interests of pastoralists with crop farmers. Emerging research on drought and food security in Mali identifies diversified livestock and crop farming as an important development pathway to increase the climate resilience of rural Malians.

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