Climate Change, Insecurity, Women and Vulnerable Groups In Nigeria
Aishatu Ella-John* and *Ifeoma Malo
Climate change is expected to have the greatest impact on Africa, as evidenced by flooding, desertification, increased temperature, weather variability, and droughts currently plaguing the continent. Women and girls, particularly in rural areas, are poised to bear the brunt of the climate crisis. This is largely caused by pre-existing inequalities like a lack of adequate access to disaster information and training, financial services and participation in community decision-making and resource distribution. These inequalities hinder women’s capacity to anticipate and adapt to climate shocks and stresses, putting their food security at risk and feeding instability.
According to the IPCC, people who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally, or otherwise marginalized are especially vulnerable to climate change. Their positions as primary providers and producers of resources for their families in society makes women especially vulnerable. Women and vulnerable populations worldwide, particularly in the Global South, have been and will continue to be disparately vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to their social status and position of power in society.
The Boko Haram Militant Herdsmen crisis are secondary effects of climate change in Nigeria. These twin insecurity situations already have thousands of women and children displaced across the country. This crisis exposes the vulnerable population to an even increased level of danger from both the militants and security agents. Stuck in the middle of a rock and a hard place, it is high time that the government and other abiding bodies gather round and decide on actionable solutions to secure the safety of women especially in today’s climate unstable world.
Nigeria’s Insecurity Situation:
The center for democracy and development CDD reported that over 60,000 deaths from insecurity in Northern Nigeria and part of the reasons attributed for the killings was the farmers/herders Violence.
The CDD said in the Northwestern states of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara about 14, 000 people lost their lives between 2011 and 2021. Conflict related casualties in the North Central states of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and, Plateau revealed that around 11, 000 people were killed in the period under review, while about 35, 000 people were killed in Northeast states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.
In 2021, 10,366 people were reportedly killed in Nigeria due to insecurity, Boko haram attacks and violent herdsmen listed as top perpetrators. The Cable in its report of insecurity related killings for the first quarter of 2022 shared the following data. 1,743 Nigerians were reportedly killed in 269 attacks.
Niger State had the highest number of reported deaths with 448 fatalities, followed by Zamfara with 327 and Kaduna with 259. In the month of June 2022, Connected Development that 465 people were killed due to insecurity and 355 people kidnapped, over 2000 reported displaced from their homes.
Though data available doesn’t share segregation of victims by gender, data available from some displaced people’s camps as a result of the crisis shows that many of the victims of displacements are women. In April 2022, Resilient Aid Development Initiative, RADI Kaduna shared data of one of the informal camps of displaced persons, women and children are almost 3 times the population of displaced men in the camp reported:
12th April 2022:, Men: 823, Women: 1209, Children: 1814 , pregnant Women: 25, Persons with Disability: 17
As the primary and secondary effects of climate change become more pronounced with little or no mitigating actions by Government and responsible agencies, the figures are expected to rise.
Displacement comes with loss of livelihood, homelessness, lawlessness, rape and other gender based violence in affected areas. Acts of violence against women have been reported even in displaced people’s camps; in this Premium Times Special Report, an investigation on abuse in IDP camps showed that women and girls are abused in and out of camps by terrorists, fellow displaced persons, security officers and even aide workers. Forced to trade their bodies in return for freedom, food and a place to sleep. Some women faced double abuse first by the terrorists who kidnapped them, and then by the security officers who rescued them and were meant to protect them in IDP camps. A particular lady in the report by Premium times was raped by Boko Haram Militants, infected with HIV and then further impregnanted and abandoned by a member of the Civilian JTF protecting the Internally Displaced Camp.
Another emerging trend is children escaping from communities prone to terrorists attack, who have lost parents to violent attacks being exploited by rings of child traffickers. Children are trafficked to “safer” cities to work as maids and abused in the process by the women and families who “employ” them. The most recent case an 11 year old Margret Joshua was beaten and tortured to death in Jos by her “employer”, Margret was escaping terrorists in her home in Kebbi and ended up being slowly tortured till she died in the hands of the suspect, Mrs. Nneamaka Nwachukwu. In a similar case in Kaduna Princess Micheal a displaced child was also tortured, and abused by her now convicted former employer Yemi Awolola.
The last 10 years of escalating climate change related insecurity in Nigeria has set in motion a deep hole of violence against women, girls and the vulnerable. Abuse and violence when their homes and villages are sacked by terrorists, abuse when they are kidnapped and held by these terrorists, abuse in camps where they go to for safety and protection, and for children, exploitation and abuse when they are illegally employed into child labour while trying to escape abuse.
With the recent push to loss and damages at this year’s just concluded Conference of Parties (COP27), Nigeria must properly document and make a case for the women and vulnerable groups most affected by the effects of flooding and insecurity as a result of climate change; collation of data showing the number of women and vulnerable population killed, displaced and abused in the last 12 years is vital to achieving accountability and climate justice.
*Ifeoma Malo is Founder and CEO — Clean Technology Hub
*Aishatu Ella-John is Manager, Environment and Climate Action at Clean Technology Hub