Dynamics of human security and regional social and economic development: A case study of the Lake Chad basin
MetadataShow full item record
Transboundary river basins (TRBs), and its array of biodiversity, have created a web of complex security, socio-economic and political interdependencies among populations, communities and multiplicity of actors across the world. However, the continuous degradation of these vital resources, resulting from natural and anthropogenic factors, has serious implications for global development, peace and security. Indeed, it further threatens regional resource base, induce livelihoods impairment, scarcities and conflicts over the utilisation and control of strategic resources, particularly in the Global South. The study explored the causeeffect analysis of the desiccation of Lake Chad basin and the dreadful Boko Haram crisis within the prisms of human security and regional development. It reflects on the interconnections among environmental change, human development, livelihoods, conflicts and the outcomes of interventions - military and humanitarian in reconstructing human security and regional development narratives in the Lake Chad Basin. The research was contextualised within two theoretical frameworks: eco-violence, and the capability approach. This was conceived to provide an improved understanding of both the micro (individual or group interactions) and macro (large scale - national and multinational actors) development processes, the enablers and constraints of human security in the region. Their implications for regional development, security, sustainability and stabilisation process are also elucidated. Mixed-method research and a case study design was adopted to specifically study the Lake Chad impact area, covering 542,829 km2, across the four riparian countries - Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Although, the conventional or active basin of the lake - an estimated 984,455 km2 area was generally referenced. Purposive sampling was used to select participants for semi-structured interviews, focused group discussions (FGD) and document review. A total of 34 key informants, six (6) FGDs and 33 institutional documents (18 intervention and policy documents and 15 official bulletins) were utilised. These enable the substantiation of primary data with secondary data – qualitative and quantitative (derived from documents review). A thematic analysis of the causality of resource scarcities, livelihoods, and conflict relationships in the region was undertaken. This includes an assessment of the regional development process and the efficacies of security and humanitarian interventions in the Lake Chad Basin.The study revealed that the desiccation of Lake Chad and the destructive Boko Haram crisis (since 2009) impede development in the region. The lake’s shrinkage (estimated above 90percent from 1963 till date), caused by environmental change and unsustainable human practices or exploitation of the basin’s resources, have transboundary effects. These and the humanitarian catastrophes caused by Boko Haram menace have heightened human insecurity, and threaten communities’ fragility and transborder cooperation in the region. While regional development processes and intervention have marginal impacts on the population and their resilience capacities. Indeed, the complexity of the challenges overlaps with inconsistencies in the region’s development processes and the interventions regime – security and humanitarian management. Thus, addressing the consequences, while neglecting the root causes of human security threats in the Lake Chad Basin, further heightens the population’s deprivations amidst challenges of resource curse, geopolitics and its alteration of regional political economy. The above underscores the dialectics between human security and regional development. From these submissions, improved water resources and environmental management; inclusive development - to address the root causes of insecurity; monitoring and harnessing of national and regional development priorities; and integrated regional security-development strategy, against the military-led humanitarian approach, are recommended as critical solutions. These enhance a rethinking of human security and regional development matrix in the Lake Chad and other TRBs in the Global South. Therefore, the study highlighted the imperative of mediating exhaustive discourse on TRBs as Special Economic Zones (SEZ); constructive interactions between development processes and actors (stakeholders); the use of groundwater as a palliative; and the intrinsic mobility, multiactivity and multi-functionality of livelihoods in the Lake Chad Basin. These can be pondered in (future research and policy) discourses to enhance regional resilience, human security and sustainable development in the Lake Chad Basin.