The Horn of Africa is affected by climate change and natural resource-based conflict. The impacts of climate change in the region – particularly extreme weather events like droughts and flooding – are indirectly contributing to local-level intercommunal natural resource conflicts across the region by exacerbating pre-existing conflict drivers and dynamics. Whilst there has been growing recognition that gender is among the key factors mediating the link between climate change and conflict, there is still a limited understanding of how and under what conditions this occurs – and what the implications are for peacebuilding in these contexts. This research aims to address this gap in the research, contributing to a stronger understanding of the gender-climate-security nexus.

The research presented in this paper examines the gendered dimensions of the climate-conflict nexus and the effect of climate change and conflict on gender roles in two crossborder conflict systems: the Mandera Triangle (where Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia converge) and the southwest Ethiopia-northwest Kenya border area. To identify implications for policy and programming in climate-affected cross-border conflict systems, the research also conducted two case studies of cross-border projects, one in each conflict system, funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa’s (EUTF) ‘Collaboration in Cross-Border Areas of the Horn of Africa Region’ to address key risks in the climate-conflict nexus.

Key findings include:

  • Climate change can contribute to cross-border natural resource conflict through four indirect causal pathways, each with a distinct set of intervening variables.
  • Women are not just passive victims of conflict, but actively engage in conflict – albeit differently to men.
  • Despite their role in conflict and their unique and crucial knowledge of natural resources (from their role managing these resources), women play a limited role in decision-making processes around resource-based conflict resolution and natural resource management.
  • The impacts of climate change are contributing to changing gender roles in communities in both conflict systems, driving women to take on responsibilities traditionally associated with men.

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