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Degradation of Wetlands in the Sahel is Wrecking Lives

Wetlands International launched a report aimed at highlighting to policymakers the relationship between the health of wetland ecosystems and involuntary human migration in the Sahel region of Africa. Entitled 'Water Shocks: Wetlands and Human Migration in the Sahel', the publication examines how poor water management leads to degradation of ecosystems, and is an overlooked cause of human migration, including to Europe.

Displacement and conflict are common in the Sahel. For instance, around Lake Chad, the Boko Haram insurgency has displaced more than 2.3 million people since mid-2013, including 1.3 million children. The Lake Chad Basin has lost 95% of its surface area due to water abstraction for irrigation projects, and youths from this region are joining armed groups because of lack of opportunities.

"Humanitarian organisations need to connect their work with the environmental and development actors to find durable solutions. We need to understand better the complex and multifaceted drivers of involuntary migration, social conflict and poverty, which may be rooted in the depletion of natural resources," concluded Juriaan Lahr, Head of International Assistance of the Netherlands Red Cross Society.

Carsten ten Brink

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