Climate Change Intervention in North-East Nigeria: Call to Action for climate disclosure and monitoring

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The UN Climate Change Conference 26 or simply COP 26 held in Glasgow, UK between October 31st to November 12th, 2021 brought together world leaders to re-examine commitments made to address carbon emissions and global warming; limit warming to well below 2℃, aiming for 1.5℃ to avoid a climate catastrophe. The President of Nigeria pledged to attain a net zero carbon economy by the year 2060. Furthermore, Nigeria might still be dependent on gas up to the year 2040 to ensure energy access and finance for a clean energy transition and will need about 7 GW of renewable capacity each year if it is to achieve its net-zero target by 2060. With the on-going devastating humanitarian crisis impeding development in North-East Nigeria, there is a growing concern as to how States in that region will join the race to net-zero. For more than a decade, national and international humanitarian organisations have provided life-saving aid to people affected by the conflict, and as the effects of climate change intensify, it raises the question, what actions are being done or planned to address climate change?

Humanitarian Situation and Climate Change Impact

According to the 2021 displacement tracking matrix assessments (round 39) carried out by the International Organisation for Migration, 2,200,357 individuals, divided among 452,363 households are Internally displaced; with children being the most affected by the displacement – 59% children, 35% adults, 6% elderly. A significant reason for such displacement is attributed to the insurgency (as shown in Figure 1) which accounts for 93%, 6% accounts for communal clashes and 1% accounts for natural disasters. It is expected that the occurrence of natural hazards would grow proportionally to the increase in unpredictable climatic conditions; for example, temperature rise, drought, and bush fires, to mention a few. The humanitarian needs overview report for 2021 published by UNOCHA reveals that a total of 8.7 million people require life-saving interventions, with the primary drivers being displacement caused by persistent regional conflicts, food insecurity, a lack of access to shelter, security and safety, health, education, water and sanitation, hygiene, and livelihood possibilities.

Figure 1 Cause of displacement and percentage of IDP population by State. Source IOM DTM 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the world and halted economic and social activities, and its traumatic effect was felt in Nigeria. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported over 200,000 lab confirmed cases with States in the North-East having between 1000 to 3000 cases. Despite such low numbers in that region, COVID-19 safety measures limited the delivery of life saving interventions.

The Index for Risk Management (INFORM)[1] model classified the probability of occurrence of a series of risk and its likelihood to cause harm; flooding was given a score of 8 out 10 as shown in Figure 2. As revealed in the Humanitarian Needs Overview report Heavy rains destroy shelters, swamp others, and obstruct humanitarian access to the camps. They also have an influence on access to safe water and sanitation, as well as a rise in disease-carrying vectors (insects).

Figure 2: The Index for Risk Management analysis for natural disasters in Nigeria under Hazard and Exposure risk classification.

As stated by Huma Heider (Haider, 2019) climate change has exacerbated drought and aridity, impacting the whole savanna terrain of Northern Nigeria and causing a drop in socio-economic activity near Lake Chad. The Northeast and Northwest are the most at risk. The combination of rising temperatures and less rain has exacerbated desert encroachment, resulting in the loss of wetlands and a rapid decrease in the amount of surface water, plant, and animal resources on land.

The vulnerability index analysis carried out by Ignatius et al (Ignatius, 2016) shows a map of States in Nigeria prone to damages due to climate change. The States in the northern part of Nigeria can be seen to be extremely vulnerable to climate change as shown in Figure 3. The results of the analysis were achieved by implementing a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to obtain a component score (weighting criteria). The component/variables include; adaptive capacity[2], exposure[3], and sensitivity[4] – each component was converted to natural logarithms for easy combinations prior to the PCA.

Figure 3:  Patterns of climate change vulnerability in Nigeria (Ignatius, 2016)

Nigeria’s Climate Change Policy Overview

The National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) revised in June 2021, sets a vision to be a low-carbon, climate resilient Nigeria and a mission to ensure sustainable development and a climate proofed economy through multi-stakeholder engagement. Achieving low carbon will mean a drastic reduction in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions; which was 347 million tonnes of CO2eq in 2018 according to Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) report. The national climate change policy further recognises tackling climate change at a multi-sectoral level; agriculture, forestry, energy, water, transport, industry, health, ICT, and security. Among the sectors mentioned, the adaptation and mitigation actions for the energy sectors will be highlighted briefly as this sector is responsible for the emission of 209 Mt CO2eq.

The energy sector in Nigeria is yet to adequately meet the electricity demand of a growing population which at present is 200 million. With an average electricity capacity output of 4 GW, means the per capita consumption per year is 151 kWh[5]. In comparison, the UK’s per capita energy consumption is roughly 33 MWh or 32564 kWh. Nigeria’s energy mix is disproportionately dominated by fossil fuels, and the sector is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly because a major share of present generation comes from climate-sensitive hydropower.

The promotion of on and off grid renewable technologies particularly solar and wind, energy efficiency improvement and retrofitting buildings, reduction of transmission losses, transition to clean cooking fuel are amongst the mitigation measures. The transition to clean cooking fuel is particularly important especially in a region facing a humanitarian crisis. The occurrence of campfires in IDP camps and host communities is imminent due to unsafe cooking practices within the camps (see Figure 4). Furthermore, Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions report specifies mitigation targets such as the development of 13 GW of off-grid renewable systems and 30% of on-grid electricity from renewables by 2030.

Figure 4: An IDP camp in a local government area in Borno State, Nigeria set ablaze due to unsafe cooking practices and exacerbated by rising temperatures

A notable adaptation measure is to improve access to energy, particularly in rural areas. However, the current insurgency ravaging rural areas in North-East Nigeria thwarts the realisation of energy access in rural areas.


The policy also recognised mainstreaming initiatives such as gender and social inclusion and proposes to empower women, children and youth to be response-ready against the effects of climate change. However not much was said about how mainstreaming activities can be done in emergency situations or conflict-affected regions. The NDC report did mention the involvement of States in the development of a climate response but only gave an example of actions deployed in one (Lagos State) out of the 36 States in Nigeria. It did however, mention that the Federal Government will work with other States to help them take similar action, following the leadership example being set by Lagos.

Establishment of a climate response task force

Similar to the Task Force on Climate-Related financial Disclosures (TCFD) which encompasses 4 thematic areas; governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets guides investors, and other stakeholders on how climate-related issues may affect an organisation’s businesses, strategy and financial planning over the short, medium, and long term. A climate response task force can be established in North-East Nigeria with members including non-profit organisations and government bodies to implement and monitor climate change response activities. There’s evidence of mitigation actions implemented by non-profit organisations some of which include, installation of solar photovoltaics in office spaces and local communities, awarenesss raising events and training of staff members. However, an inter-agency climate response impact assessment can provide an accurate representation of contributions to a net zero transition.

This would not be the first task force in existence in North-East Nigeria; the Child Protection case management task force (CMTF) was established in 2018 to address technical issues surrounding child protection casework and the case management of identified vulnerable children in north-eastern Nigeria. The responsiblities of the task force included; developing standard operating procedures and monitoring tools, sharing of best practices with government ministries and other NGOs in line with international standards, identifying capacity building needs and facilitate training for actors.

The establishment of the task force might not be the panacea to the climate crisis facing North-East Nigeria but it will help to set up a framework for a holistic climate response amongst humanitarian organisations. It will further build accountability, capacity development within agencies, and resource mobilisation. As Nigeria aims for a net-zero economy by 2060, humanitarian organisation can help strengthen North-Eastern States in Nigeria to respond adequately to the climate agenda.

[1] The Index for Risk Management (INFORM) model is based on risk principles published in scientific literature and considers three risk dimensions: hazards and exposure, vulnerability, and a lack of coping capability.

[2] Adaptive capacity element: education, assets, information and income.

[3] Exposure elements: range of temperature, rainfall variability, coast, desert encroachment.

[4] Sensitivity elements: employment in agriculture and percentage of land used for agriculture.

[5] PwC (2015): Powering Nigeria for the Future


HAIDER, H. 2019. Climate change in Nigeria: impacts and responses.

IGNATIUS, A. M. Rurality and climate change vulnerability in Nigeria: Assessment towards evidence based even rural development policy. 2016.

About the Author

Fredrick Usen Fredrick Usen
Fredrick is recent graduate from the University of Southampton who studied energy and sustainability. Fredrick has a great desire to improve the quality of life of those who are in need. With dedication to projects that offer life-saving assistance to vulnerable internally displaced people in North-East Nigeria. Fredrick dissertation focused on the use of hydrogen to meet the thermal and electrical demands of a commercial University building via a CHP system. The result identified Carbon emission reduction and showed the techno-economic analysis of switching to a more sustainable gas for a combined heat and power system.
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