Environmental Degradation and Forced Displacement in Africa

The polycrisis is a convenient global buzzword today that perfectly describes the complex, cumulative and unprecedented effects of multiple, disparate, and overlapping global crises which threaten human ability to cope, adapt, and survive.[1] The Covid-19 pandemic, climate crises creating wildfires, floods, and extreme weather events, burgeoning inflation and economic recession, multiple migration crises and fatalities, the war in Ukraine and threats of a third world war—have mutually constituted a shared sense of humanity undergoing tremendous collective stress. This essay considers Africa’s experience of the polycrisis in relation to the mutually constitutive effects of ecological crises and human displacement, within the global context described above where multiple disasters overlay multiple impacts and local, national, regional, and international levels of responsibility.

Today, not less than 184 million individuals who make up 2.3 percent of the global population are resident in other parts of the world outside their countries of origin and nationality.[2] This conservative figure starkly signifies the “complexity and increasing necessity” of cross-border movements, as the 2023 World Development Report puts it.[3]However, African migration is propelled by the cumulative effects of historical and contemporary ecological, economic and sociopolitical issues that have become acute in the current global polycrisis. Nowhere else best captures the interconnectedness of human rights, democracy, and peace on the one hand, and the environment, resources, conflict, and displacement, on the other hand.

Over the years, humans have had reasons to migrate from their abodes due to fear, threats to their lives, and many other reasons, without much premeditation nor plans for such movements. Hence, they seek refuge in the places provided by host countries and communities that would guarantee either safety, or the absence of the threats that had made them migrate, or the presence of protections their home communities have lacked. Thus, forced migration, resulting in the acquisition of refugee, internally displaced person (IDP), and asylum-seeker status, has skyrocketed in recent times. The UNHCR informs that one in every 74 people on Earth have been forced to flee, and 108.4 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced in 2022.[4] Of this number, 35.3 million are refugees scattered across the world.[5] The number evidences an unprecedented increase of 8.2 million in the one year from 2021, where there was an average of about 27.1 million refugees globally. Ukraine, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Myanmar, and Afghanistan are currently the highest refugee-producing countries globally, with refugees from those countries making up half of the entire global refugee population.[6]

In the midst of all these, the place of Africa in the global discussion on refugees and the predominance of their saturation in certain parts of the continent has become very concerning in recent times. In 2021, Africa alone had up to 32 million forcibly displaced persons, that is,  refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum seekers on the continent.[7]An estimated 75 percent of Africa’s forcibly displaced are internally displaced persons (IDPs),[8] with the UNDP referring to internal displacement in Africa as “a silent epidemic.”[9] For a long time, Africa has remained a continent marked by the constant presence of refugees and displaced persons, fleeing from the harsh realities of conflicts, political repression and instability, and environmental challenges that invoke the forced migration of countless people and families.[10] Displacement constitutes a significant economic and social burden for the citizens, communities, and nations where the displaced settle.

From the wilderness of North Africa to the Southern horizons of the continent, African nations have shouldered bravely the sole responsibility of providing shelter and protection to those in need. Countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, and Chad have become homes for refugees, with large sprawling camps and settlements dotting the landscape for decades.[11] The plight of African refugees and displaced persons is worrisome. The unending flight occasioned largely by the quest for security and livelihoods of those fleeing from conflicts contributes to one of the greatest challenges of the continent. Refugees most times arrive in their host communities with no resources amidst current uncertainties of survival.

The constant production of refugees is not typical of every African country, but there are several that have become nearly permanent producers and hosts of refugee populations. Citizens of just 10 countries in Africa make up about 88 percent of its refugees and displaced persons because of conflict and several other reasons. South Sudan has sat comfortably at the apex as one of the top refugee-producing countries in the world with about 2.2 million refugees from the country and another 2 million people that have been internally displaced. Countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Sudan have provided refuge for hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees.[12]

Causes, Concepts, Contestations

Several displacement-producing factors have been given more attention than others and the purpose of this essay is to relate the presence and conditions of African refugees and displaced persons to the state of environmental degradation on the continent, evidencing the other less-discussed displacement-producing trajectories. The reasons accounting for the ascription of the status of refugees to many Africans are numerous. Armed conflicts,[13] political instability which includes various forms of political repression and coups,[14] ethnic and religious tensions and conflicts,[15] ‘natural’ disasters including droughts, floods, and other conditions,[16] environmental degradation aggravated by land degradation, deforestation and desertification,[17] economic hardship,[18] human rights abuses,[19] and others have formed a long list of factors that facilitate displacement and turn people to IDPs and refugees.

While the whole world and most scholars have rather attached the causes and events that have led to the displacement of people and the seeking of refuge to conflicts, violence, and terrorism in African countries, other important factors are often left out of the discourses. Truly, Africa has put itself in the rank of one of the most disturbed continents, with political, economic, ethnic, and terrorism-related conflicts pushing millions out of their homes and comfort zones. The conflict narratives have therefore become so easy to fixate upon and become measures of understanding refugees and a measure of addressing their issues without attention to specificities and peculiarities.

An important and perhaps more fundamental explanation is the intense scholarly, activist, and political contestation surrounding the concept of climate and environmental degradation as causes of displacement. Technically, there is no legal support for the recognition of migrants who cite environmental or climate related causes as their reasons for seeking asylum or refugee status. The international refugee regime and its law, the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, recognizes mostly political causes of refugee crises, and for a long time did not acknowledge potential economic and ecological causes, nor even internal displacement as a global issue. In spite of this, there has long been acknowledgement of the phenomenon of displacement caused by environmental changes and disasters. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as far back as 1992, noted that “the gravest effects of climate change may be those on human migration as millions are displaced by shoreline erosion, coastal flooding, and severe drought.”[20] More recently, the latest and most comprehensive international agreement on migration, the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, explicitly recognizes climate-related events, environmental degradation and (natural and man-made) disasters as propellants of human migration.[21]

This contestation of causes and concepts further shows up in a fundamental way as a lack of agreement concerning the appropriate terminology for the phenomenon, with labels used including environmental migration/migrants, environmental refugees, environmentally induced displacement, climate migration/migrants, climate refugees, and so on. The International Organization for Migration provides a usefully broad definition of the concept of “environmental displacement” which embraces different kinds of environmental disasters with different causes and different kinds of related human mobilities thus: “Environmental migrants are persons or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive change in the environment that adversely affects their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad.”[22]

The above conceptualization, which refers to “sudden or progressive change in the environment,” points to the value of distinguishing between two broad kinds of environmental crises as either one provokes distinct patterns of human mobility and displacement. “Sudden-onset climate events” occur within hours or days, and encompass events such as hurricanes, wildfires, mudslides, and floods, while “slow-onset climate events” emerge over several years, such as desertification, changes in rainfall patterns, extreme temperatures, and sea-level rises.[23] Each of the these two types provoke different patterns of displacement, as sudden-onset events can be more clearly linked to specific population displacements, while slow-onset events produce human mobilities that are less easily trackable and less directly traceable to climate events given that there are several other factors and forces co-existing in the time period of these events as to becloud the justification for displacement.[24]

For the above reasons, limited attention has been given to the important subject of environmental degradation on the continent which has effectively sent many Africans forcibly packing and moving. The ecosystem in Africa is plural and particular to different zones and parts of the continent but the people have been able to adapt to their own ecological peculiarities over millennia. However, the depletion of the resources attached to the ecosystem like soil, water, pasture, and clean air has severely tested the capabilities and adaptability of the people and set in motion the events that have led to their migration to saner climes to settle.

Key patterns of environmental degradation and displacement in Africa

There are many causes of the current environmental crises affecting African peoples, some internal or domestic to African nations, others external to the continent and locatable in the international system. Environmental degradation is partly caused by the actions and inactions of Africans themselves, including persons that are forcibly displaced, and the end results have both been devastating and many times fatal to the existence of human lives on African soils. In recent times, the continent has not been paying much attention to the issues around the environment and the ecosystem as most African countries tend to focus more on immediate problems such as political instability and economic crises, until the environmental degradation has graduated to the level of imminent danger. This means that the orientation in the continent is far more reactive to the consequences of environmental degradation, rather than proactive to tackle the activities that progressively degrade the African ecosystem. This is even more evident in the way it takes quite a lot of effort to persuade African leaders to take any steps towards protecting the climate and environment.

Although several factors are responsible for environmental degradation, particularly in Africa, the consequences and resultant effect of it have been quite heavy on the generality of the African population, displacing many and making others into refugees as they crisscross borders. The World Bank has predicted that the continent will be the hardest hit by climate change, with up to 86 million internally displaced by it by 2050, and West Africa and the Lake Victoria basin as “hot spots” as early as 2030 with up to 32 million and 36 million respectively displaced by it by 2050.[25] Climate-related occurrences in Africa account for about 7.4 million people that are displaced in sub-Saharan Africa.[26] There is an anticipation of about 85.7 million climate and environmentally induced migration by 2050.[27]

The East and Horn of African countries are some of the African countries that have had millions of people displaced as a result of environmental and climate factors over time. The countries in the Horn account for about 0.1% of carbon emissions globally and have been facing extreme drought with lack of rainfall or failed rainy seasons for four seasons consecutively. As a result, not less than 36.1 million people are seriously affected. This has caused considerable challenges for pastoralists and farmers, with an incidence of about 8.9 million deaths of livestock in the Horn of Africa alone.

As a result of this, about 20.5 million people face the risk of extreme food insecurity as well as malnutrition in countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, while about 16 million of them could not get clean or potable water.[28] In Somalia alone, there are no less than 1 million people that have become environmental refugees and displaced persons as of 2022.[29] The effect of drought on the African population cannot be underestimated being that a large proportion of the people are farmers, of crops and of livestock, and several of the areas depend on agricultural activities for livelihood and survival. Hence, drought brought about the loss of livelihood and pushed them to look for more favorable areas for survival, causing millions to forcibly migrate.

Where drought is the problem for some, flood is the challenge for others. The erratic climate system and inordinate rainfall have strongly affected many African countries, destroying the people and their properties. Countries in the Horn of Africa, Burundi, South Sudan, and Uganda have their citizens becoming victims of extreme flooding with no hope in sight in most cases. Statistics from recent ecological disasters are grim and rising literally by the day. Sudan has one of the most serious flood situations in Africa currently. In 2022, about 299,500 Sudanese were displaced by excessive flooding.[30] There was a destruction of about 17,600 homes across the country and about 45,100 dwellings were completely damaged. Aside from this, over 129 people died in 2022 in addition to the thousands of others displaced from their homes.[31] The situation is made worse by the fact that much of the economic and infrastructural resources in the country have been extensively damaged. In the same 2022, about 238 medical facilities, 1500 water resources, emergency facilities and 1500 latrines were also destroyed.[32]

Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and others have also continually experienced problems relating to floods resulting from long-term environmental factors and degradation. In Nigeria, not less than 1.3 million people have been displaced internally and externally, contributing to the already large numbers of refugees and displaced persons in the region. With about 2.8 million people in Nigeria directly impacted by flooding and the loss of hundreds of lives to it, Nigeria might be emerging as one of the main focus areas for apprehending the issue of environmental refugees in Africa.[33]

In Chad, floods are recorded to have affected about 1 million people, as declared by the government, putting they, their families, and property at risk. About 90,000 people left their rural homes for N’Djamena, the capital city, and other places for safety and refuge.[34] Cameroonians living in Logone Birni, Kousseri, Blangoua, Makari, and Zina have been victims of excessive flooding with about 63,000 people affected in the country. Today, not less than 379, 500 citizens of Burkina Faso have been displaced.[35] In Niger, especially the Diffa areas, not less than 13,000 people has also been displaced as a result of flooding.[36]

This problem is quite notorious across all parts of Africa and it has been an age-long problem that has not received adequate attention. The UNHCR has decried the fact that about 3.4 million Africans that are displaced by flooding across the continent in mid-2023 need urgent attention.[37] Aside from the fact that the homes of citizens are destroyed, leaving them to wander around other towns, cities, and possibly other countries, other effects of flooding are the destruction of vital economic resources and farming systems, including the death of livestock. This economically incapacitates the people, with the only option of looking out for other opportunities and places.

Environmental degradation is one of the chief factors causing climate change globally—but it is both a cause and an effect. With the carefree attitude that African nations have shown towards the subject matter in recent times, it is obvious that the continent has not been getting the warning messages from nature, nor hearing the cry of green lives. The release of Greenhouse gases (GHGs) like methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrous oxide (N2O) affects the environment by raising global temperatures. In 2021, Africa was responsible for about 3.9 percent of the emission of carbon globally, mostly from land use and forest degradation,[38] industries, and the burning of fossil fuels.[39] This percentage is very low, relative to other major carbon emitters such as China (23%), the United States (19%), and European Union (13%), with these industrialized countries along with others like Russia and India accounting for up to 90% of global carbon emissions. Conversely, the devastating impacts of these emissions disproportionately affect developing countries of Africa and the global South.

Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change which can cause extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and floods, as the continent has been witnessing in the past few decades. More so, it is responsible for rising sea-levels that have been displacing people living along the coasts. Sea or ocean level rise poses imminent threats to African societies, especially coastal metropolises such as Alexandria, Cape Town, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Lagos, Luanda, and Mogadishu. Sea levels are expected to rise by around 0.3 meters by 2030 with a global warming of 2C, and is projected to affect about 117 million Africans who could lose their lives, properties, or be displaced.[40] Importantly, the density of the coastal cities of Africa, environmental abuses leading to degradation, and emission of greenhouse gases from 2020 to 2030, have all been on the increase. Abidjan, Casablanca, Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Cape Town, Alexandria, and Luanda are expected to have a population increase of between 48 million and 69 million, and with current laissez faire attitudes towards preventing climate change, it is expected that emissions would increase either proportionally or more than the rate of population increase.[41]

The situation could get more compounded due to the possibility of greater water scarcity and food insecurity in addition to the already existing levels of these issues across the continent. As climate change affects the patterns of precipitation and have a direct effect on water availability and, consequently, on economic productivity, there will be many more incidences of reduced crop yields and food shortages.  More so, major disruptions to livelihoods could be one of the issues the continent would have to battle if measures are not taken to forestall this potential disaster.

The above has shown reasons for the continuous forced displacement of Africans and the tensions that follow. However, the continent is likely to face more problems from these emissions as African and global increments in energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, feedback loops, and altered weather patterns continue to produce regrettable results in environmental degradation on the continent.

Forests are key to combating emissions and environmental degradation. Twenty-six percent of African land are forests scattered across different parts of the continent.[42] There is also an estimation of about 43 billion trees with high concentrations in large countries like the DRC, Ethiopia, African, and South African.[43] Unfortunately, the practice of continuous deforestation from the construction of buildings, infrastructures, industrialization, and other development activities has brought about massive deforestation every year. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, has noted that the rate of deforestation in African is twice the global rate. Every year, about 4 million hectares of forest are lost to deforestation putting the rate higher than the rest of the world. Both forests and grasslands of the continent take up about 50 percent of the land designation in the continent.[44] Even the Congo which is seen as the ‘lung of the planet,’ being the second largest rainforest on the globe with forests measuring about 152 million hectares of land, is witnessing this rapid deforestation and could be facing some of the consequences.[45] This exposes people to the environmental consequences that are capable of displacing them or bringing the need to seek refuge elsewhere.

Deforestation has become a major threat to biodiversity in African spaces and ecosystems, causing fragmentation and destruction of habitats of both animals and plants. Forests are also responsible for the prevention of soil erosion, which is quite important to the survival of African, especially those that are farmers or depend on plants and forests for survival. With deforestation, the absence of the tree roots that help hold the soil together and brace against the impacts of wind and rainfall has been having dangerous impacts, especially in more industrialized environments in African countries. In addition, trees are supposed to be absorbers and natural ‘sinks’ of carbon dioxide, the latter seen as a primary causative factor in climate change processes and environmental degradation.[46] The danger of burning of wood and deforestation is the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.[47] The effects of deforestation on the ecosystem are numerous but this is just one of the many factors that degrade the environment, causing loss of lives and livelihoods and displacement.

One other problem in Africa that could increase the number of environmental refugees is the inadequate waste management systems in each African country. The municipal solid waste in Africa increased to about 125 million tons as far back as 2012 and the projection was around 250 million tons by 2025.[48] One of the contributing factors to this dire projection is the inadequacy of the systems of waste collection in Africa, which is only about 55 percent.[49] To buttress this, there are more uncontrolled landfills and dumpsites in Africa than controlled ones, with over 90% of waste disposed at the former. Hence, it gives lesser room for recycling, which is just about 4% of all waste in general. Although the aim of the African Union has been to achieve a 50% rate of recycling on the continent, the realities indicate otherwise.[50]

The effect of this on the environment cannot be underestimated. The result of this has been forcing a lot of people out of their communities, making them environmental refugees across the continent. Bad waste management in Africa is responsible for some of the flooding problems in the continent. Non-biodegradable materials, plastics and other materials that form solid waste are the greatest causes of land pollution and cause both harmful environments, contamination of the soil, erosion and blockage of water passages that could lead to flooding. The effects also include becoming water and air pollutants, destruction of habitats, climate change, livestock and wildlife hazards, ecological imbalances, and soil contamination.

Indifference and Awareness Deficits

Truly, as the number of refugees and displaced persons as a result of environmental degradation is increasing, one would expect considerable efforts towards making right the situations. The ecological awareness of the citizens is influenced by different factors. There is general environmental illiteracy and ignorance as well as lack of efforts for proper orientation of the people. The indifference is partly increased by the continuous and desperate focus on concerns on survival rather than longer term environmental protection that has potential to displace people. Africa houses a high percentage of the global poor and as such, the immediate concern of the people is towards fulfilling their most basic needs such as food and water from day to day. Hence, environmental issues have become tertiary to most African communities and people. In addition, ineffectual educational systems, and lack of access to education in some African countries have denied people the opportunity to understand the repercussions of certain environmental actions and inactions over time. The people sometimes have no access to up-to-date scientifically backed information that would bring about seriousness and understanding of the urgency around cautious actions and attitudes towards environmental degradation. It is also unfortunate that those who feel they are not affected or not living in some of the areas that are vulnerable do not feel the need to protect the one home everyone shares: Planet Earth.

In addition, Africans have a heavy reliance on the burning of fossil fuels, especially in remote and rural areas where alternatives are scarce, expensive, or non-existent. About 6 out of 10 Africans live in rural areas, and as such, there is ahigh rate of reliance on fossil fuels the continent as people burn kerosine, or fell trees for firewood. Hence, the readiness of Africans to transition to renewable energy and resources is very minimal even as the concerns around sustainability has risen on the continent.

While much has been said around how environmental degradation makes people acquire refugee status, refugees themselves have not learned lessons from the unfortunate incident that affected them in the first place. The deforestation process and wood-fuel consumption at refugee camps have also been a concerning worry generally. The consumption patterns of the camps and its inhabitants generally do not also show the readiness to combat waste generation and consciousness of environmental degradation.

Responses and Recommendations

As the causes, manifestations, and impacts of environmental degradation and its forced displacement outcomes are many and varied, so have been the responses by government, civil society actors, international organizations, and individuals.

Africans for millennia cared deeply for their environment and had a spiritual connection to it. While acknowledging variations across African societies, there was undoubtedly a common strand of indigenous worldviews that centered a holistic view of their environment, respecting the existence of all tangible and intangible matter, human and non-human, living and non-living, ancestral and spirit beings, and saw all inhabitants and habitations of the planet as existing in inextricable interconnectedness to one another and to other terrestrial realms. For them, nature was sacred, and nature was divine. Care was taken to exist in harmonious interrelation to all elements of the environment, and the planet itself, Earth, was revered as the mother of all, providing care, nurture, sustenance, and life itself. African humans took from the natural environment only as much resources as they needed to survive and thrive and saw it as their responsibility to return or grow back the nourishment in the living, non-human, and invisible environment, that is, they practiced indigenous climate mitigation and environmental protection strategies. They shunned exploitative relations to their environment, preserving communally owned resources for inter-generational enjoyment, and it was well-recognized that achieving balance between the various natural forces was a prerequisite to peace and stability.[51]

It seems then that the current patterns of environmental behavior discussed before cannot be seen as typical, but as recent and compelled by several intersecting factors, some noted already, and including forces such as colonial economic dislocations, global capitalism, exploitative relations between states and corporations, commercialization of land, land-grabbing and the dispossession and relocation of communities from ancestral land, rural-urban migration, poor governance, exclusion of local people from decision making about their environmental resources, and so on.[52] For Africans, the polycrisis has been on for quite a while, and recent events are merely a culmination. If the crisis would be considerably mitigated for the many people, communities, states, and societies affected by it, there would be need to roll back the mentioned nefarious practices, and to begin to practice respect for age-old environmental philosophies that center justice, harmony, respect, and sustainability.

So, multi-level responses are required to begin to see any improvements to the adequacy, effectiveness and durability of the measures applied to addressing environmental displacement. At the global level, action needs to be taken to get the major contributors to carbon emissions to reduce their carbon footprint and diversify their sources of energy to begin to lessen and reverse the adverse climate impacts of their industrial activities. It is now axiomatic to point out that while global North and industrialized countries account for the near totality of climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions, the disproportionate effect is felt in Africa, projected to have the highest number of environmentally displaced by as early as 2030, and by other developing areas such as South Asia. The most important action to begin would be for these richer countries to begin to honor the multilateral commitments for climate change mitigation that they have already made, and to expand those commitments, specifically, to provide the commensurate resources to the poorer countries to cope with and survive the current crises, a reparation imperative.

In conclusion, African governments and the African Union (AU) cannot sit on the fence to make recommendations and plans that have proven to lack the force of enforceability over the years. For example, in addition to global agreements such as emanating from the various COP climate conferences, the 1969 OAU Convention provides for African governments to  recognize and protect as refugees persons who due to “events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality, is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of origin or nationality.” This has potential to expand the rights and protections available to environmentally displaced persons on their territory. Furthermore, the landmark AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, the Kampala Convention, arguably has not contributed much to the quantum of assistance available to people displaced by climate events; financial commitments to IDPs remain limited, and prevention is virtually non-existent. And in 2022, the AU concluded its first ever joint climate change action plan and strategy, called the AU Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032).[53] It remains to be seen how far this would go in terms of implementation.

As Wangari Maathai often noted, we cannot really blame the poor for the environmental degradation evident across the continent; it is governments, the powerful people and groups in society, that are responsible for, and should be held accountable for its environmental crises and its consequences. African leaders generally exhibit nonchalance towards efforts to reduce the causes and cushion the impacts of environmental displacement. From governmental de-prioritization of the issues of environmental degradation to lack of adequate responses to the problems arising from them, the future does not promise greater strides towards sustainability in Africa. More so, it is quite embarrassing that many governments do not consider environmental degradation as a time bomb. This is because environmental degradation, the refugees and IDPs it has produced, and the many consequences are not just affecting individual countries but have become continental disasters. This then calls for extra measures to be taken by governments, the AU, and other international organizations.

Toyin Falola is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin. His most recent books are Decolonizing African Knowledge: Autoethnography and African Epistemologies and, with Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso, African Refugees.

Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso is associate professor of African and African American Studies at Brandeis University, and co-author of African Refugees (Indiana University Press, 2023).

[1] Kate Whiting and HyoJin Park, “This is why ‘polycrisis’ is a useful way or looking at the world right now,” World Economic Forum, March 7, 2023, at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/03/polycrisis-adam-tooze-historian-explains/.

[2] Emi Suzuki, and Caroline Sergeant, “New UNHCR Data Points to Record Number of Worldwide Refugees in 2022 Driven Largely by the War in Ukraine,” World Bank Blogs, June 30, 2023. Retrieved on July 22, 2023. https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/new-data-unhcr-points-record-high-number-worldwide-refugees-2022#:~:text=This%20page%20in%3A&text=June%2020%20is%20World%20Refugee,record%20since%20World%20War%20II.

[3] World Bank, World Development Report 2023, at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2023.

[4] UNHCR, Global Trends Report 2022, at: https://www.unhcr.org/global-trends-report-2022.

[5] UNHCR Refugee Data Finder, Population Figures Dataset, at: https://www.unhcr.org/refugee-statistics/download/?url=9b1rSC.

[6]  UNHCR Global Trends Report 2022; World Development Report 2023.

[7] Relief World, “32 Million Africans Forcibly Displaced by Conflict and Repression,” Relief World News and Press Release, June 18, 2021.  Retrieved on July 22, 2023. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/32-million-africans-forcibly-displaced-conflict-and-repression#:~:text=More%20than%2032%20million%20Africans,29%20million%20a%20year%20ago.

[8] Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, “Record 36 million Africans forcibly displaced,” July 19, 2022, at: https://africacenter.org/spotlight/record-36-million-africans-forcibly-displaced-is-44-percent-of-global-total-refugees-asylum/.

[9] United Nations Development Program, “Internal Displacement: the Silent Epidemic.” August 19, 2022, at: https://www.undp.org/ghana/blog/internal-displacement-silent-epidemic.

[10] Murat Bayar, and Mustafa M. Aral, “An Analysis of Large-Scale Forced Migration in Africa,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16, no. 21 (2019): 4210.

[11] Duccio Baldi, Magda Moner-Girona, Elena Fumagalli, and Fernando Fahl, “Planning Sustainable Electricity Solutions for Refugee Settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Nature Energy 7, no. 4 (2022): 369-379.

[12] Kathryn Reid, “Forced to Flee: Top Countries Refugees are Coming from,” World Vision, June 15, 2023. Retrieved on July 22, 2023. https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/forced-to-flee-top-countries-refugees-coming-from.

[13] Kerstin Fisk, “Refugee Geography and the Diffusion of Armed Conflict in Africa,” Civil Wars 16, no. 3 (2014): 255-275.

[14] John K. Akokpari, “The State, Refugees and Migration in Sub‐Saharan Africa,” International Migration 36, no. 2 (1998): 211-234.

[15] Myron Weiner, “Bad Neighbors, Bad Neighborhoods: An Inquiry into the Causes of Refugee Flows,” International Security 21, no. 1 (1996): 5-42.

[16] Wim Naudé, “Natural Disasters and International Migration from Sub-Saharan Africa,” Migration Letters 6, no. 2 (2009): 165-176.

[17] Fiona Flintan, “Environmental Refugees–a Misnomer or a Reality,” Report of the Wilton Park Conference on Environmental Security and Conflict Prevention, 2001: 1-3

[18] Michael J. Schultheis, “Refugees in Africa: The Geopolitics of Forced Displacement,” African Studies Review 32, no. 1 (1989): 3-30.

[19] Guglielmo Verdirame, “Human Rights and Refugees: The Case of Kenya,” Journal of Refugee Studies 12, no. 1 (1999): 54-77.

[20] World Meteorological Organization/ UN Environmental Program Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 1992. Climate Change: The IPCC 1990 and 1992 Assessments. Geneva: IPCC. At: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/05/ipcc_90_92_assessments_far_full_report.pdf.

[21] United Nations, The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, 19 December 2018, available at: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N18/451/99/PDF/N1845199.pdf?OpenElement.

[22] IOM, “Migration and the Environment.” Discussion Note: MC/INF/288, prepared for the Ninety-fourth Session of the IOM Council, 27–30 November 2007, Geneva.

[23] Kerilyn Schewel, “Who Counts as a Climate Migrant?” Migration Policy Institute, July 20, 2023, at: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/who-is-a-climate-migrant?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=32281bb2-7333-41f4-8bd1-fa4dc5b8954e.

[24] Schewel, Who Counts as a Climate Migrant?

[25] World Bank, “Climate Change Could Further Impact Africa’s Recovery, Pushing 86 Million Africans to Migrate Within Their Own Countries by 2050,” October 27, 2021. At: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2021/10/27/climate-change-could-further-impact-africa-s-recovery-pushing-86-million-africans-to-migrate-within-their-own-countries.

[26] Marie Toulemonde, “By 2050, One in Two Climate Migrants will be African, Study Shows,” The Africa Report, June 1, 2023. Retrieved on July 24, 2023. https://www.theafricareport.com/309342/by-2050-one-in-two-climate-migrants-will-be-african-study-shows/#:~:text=In%202022%2C%20climate%2Drelated%20disasters,absence%20of%20concrete%20mitigation%20measures.

[27] Aimée-Noël Mbiyozo, “A New Declaration could Set a Precedent for Regional Cooperation on Africa’s Climate-Change Crisis,” Institute for Security Studies, September 27, 2022. Retrieved on July 24, 2023. https://issafrica.org/iss-today/east-africa-and-the-horn-light-the-way-for-climate-migrants.

[28] Mbiyozo, “A New Declaration Could Set a Precedent for Regional Cooperation on Africa’s Climate Change Crisis.”

[29] Mbiyozo, “A New Declaration Could Set a Precedent for Regional Cooperation on Africa’s Climate Change Crisis.”

[30] Relief Web, “Sudan: Weekly Floods Round-up, No. 07 (19 September 2022),” Relief Web, September 19, 2022. Retrieved on July 24, 2023. https://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/sudan-weekly-floods-round-no-07-19-september-2022

[31]  Relief Web, “Sudan: Weekly Floods Round-up, No. 07 (19 September 2022).”

[32] Mbiyozo, “A New Declaration Could Set a Precedent for Regional Cooperation on Africa’s Climate-Change Crisis,”

[33] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Millions Face Harm from Flooding across West and Central Africa, UNHCR Warns,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Briefing Notes, October 28, 2022. Retrieved on July 24, 2023. https://www.unhcr.org/news/briefing-notes/millions-face-harm-flooding-across-west-and-central-africa-unhcr-warns

[34] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Millions Face Harm from Flooding across West and Central Africa, UNHCR Warns.”

[35] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Millions Face Harm from Flooding across West and Central Africa, UNHCR Warns.”

[36] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Millions Face Harm from Flooding across West and Central Africa, UNHCR Warns.”

[37] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Millions Face Harm from Flooding across West and Central Africa, UNHCR Warns.”

[38] Amadu Sy, “Africa: Financing Adaptation and Mitigation in the World’s Most Vulnerable Region,” Brookings Institution Africa Growth Initiative, August 18, 2016, at: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/global_20160818_cop21_africa.pdf.

[39] Lars Kamer, “Percent of Global CO2 Emissions with Origin in Africa 2000-2021,” Statista, Jun 26, 2023. Retrieved on July 24, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1287508/africa-share-in-global-co2-emissions/.

[40] Relief Web, “Rising Sea Levels Besieging Africa’s Booming Coastal Cities,” Relief Web, Novemeber 24, 2022. Retrieved on July 24, 2023. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/rising-sea-levels-besieging-africas-booming-coastal-cities.

[41] Kamer, “Percent of Global CO2 Emissions with Origin in Africa 2000-2021,”

[42] Martina Igini, “Deforestation in Africa: Causes, Effects, and Solutions,” Earth.Org, March 24th, 2023. Retrieved on July 24th 2023. https://earth.org/deforestation-in-africa/.

[43] Igini, “Deforestation in Africa: Causes, Effects, and Solutions.”

[44] Igini, “Deforestation in Africa: Causes, Effects, and Solutions,”

[45] Igini, “Deforestation in Africa: Causes, Effects, and Solutions,”

[46] Klaus Lorenz, Rattan Lal, Klaus Lorenz, and Rattan Lal, “The Natural Dynamic of Carbon in Forest Ecosystems,” Carbon Sequestration in Forest Ecosystems (2010): 23-101.

[47] Lauren Bennett, “Deforestation and Climate Change,” A Publication of Climate Institute 1400 (2017).

[48] The United Nations Environment, “African Waste Management Outlook: Summary for Decision-Makers,” 2012. Retrieved on July 24, 2023. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25515/Africa_WMO_Summary.pdf?sequence=1%26isAllowed=y#:~:text=MSW%20generated%20in%20Africa%20is,socio%2Deconomic%20opportunities%20for%20countries.&text=private%20sector%20design.,of%20MSW%20is%20currently%20recycled.

[49] The United Nations Environment, “African Waste Management Outlook: Summary for Decision-Makers,”

[50] The United Nations Environment, “African Waste Management Outlook: Summary for Decision-Makers,”

[51] Workineh Kelbessa, “African Environmental Philosophy, Injustice and Policy,” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, February 16, 2022. At: https://gjia.georgetown.edu/2022/02/16/african-environmental-philosophy-environmental-injustice-and-policy%EF%BF%BC/#:~:text=The%20African%20indigenous%20people%27s%20commitment,nature%20as%20sacred%20and%20divine.

[52] Kelbessa, African Environmental Philosophy.

[53] African Union, African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032), June 28, 2022, at: https://au.int/en/documents/20220628/african-union-climate-change-and-resilient-development-strategy-and-action-plan.


Latest Issue

2024: Vol. 23, No. 1

Latest Issue

2024: Vol. 23, No. 1

By Toyin Falola , Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso: Environmental Degradation and Forced Displacement in Africa

By Francis Mading Deng: Sudan’s Wars of Identity: The Creeping Quest For A New Sudan

By Karen Lee Ashcraft: The Global Grievance Network: How Viral Masculinity Endangers Everyone

By Fred Camper: Our Flattening Culture

By Stanislav Vysotsky: Constructing a Boogeyman: Myths and Realities of Antifa Activism

By James Kent , Michael Lazarus: What We Owe the Past: William MacAskill, Effective Altruism and the Wrong Life

By Sergei Erofeev: The War in Ukraine and Putin’s Vlast: a sociological perspective

By Rohini Hensman: Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, the Pioneering Bolshevik Theorist of Imperialism, National Liberation and Socialism

By P. Adams Sitney: On Ken Kelman and His Theory of Cinema

By Ken Kelman: On Kenneth Anger, Christopher MacLane, and Isidore Isou

By Ralph Bakshi: Art: The Covid Series

By Joseph Chuman: Review Essay: Magda Teter’s Christian Supremacy: Reckoning with the Roots of Antisemitism and Racism

By Ian Williams: Book Review: Lerone A. Martin’s The Gospel of J. Edgar Hoover: How the FBI Aided and Abetted the Rise of White Christian Nationalism

By Ian H. Angus: Book Review: Andrew Feenberg’s The Ruthless Critique of Everything Existing

By Maor Levitin: Book Review: Joan Braune and Kieran Durkin’s Erich Fromm’s Critical Theory: Hope, Humanism, and the Future

By Gabriel G. Roman: Book Review: Moisés Kopper’s Architectures of Hope: Infrastructural Citizenship and Class Mobility in Brazil’s Public Housing