Globally, in 2019, 79.5 million people were forced to leave their homes due to conflict and violations of human rights. Sub-Saharan Africa counted 6.3 million refugees and many more internally displaced persons (IDPs) following conflicts and violence in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic (CAR) (UNHCR, 2020). Displaced people (refugees and internally displaced) influxes and dependency on natural resources for construction materials, fuelwood and livelihood activities frequently exceed the carrying capacity of the environment, leading to soil degradation and biodiversity loss, and tensions and conflicts with surrounding hosting communities (Duguma et al., 2009; Kakonge, 2000; UNHCR,2018.)
The environment is often not considered from the outset of refugee planning due to different institutional understandings and consideration of environmental issues. The environment is often a ‘hidden’ underlying issue, interwoven with human and social costs, but often insufficiently studied (EoD 201). Over the past decade, however, UNHCR and other humanitarian and development actors have become increasingly concerned about the state and well-being of the environment around camps and settlements of displaced people and their host communities and have initiated medium to long-term programming in the Migration-Energy-Environment nexus. UNHCR believes that access to sustainable, clean energy is closely linked to environmental protection and is a key factor in ensuring that basic needs are met, more sustainable and inclusive communities are created, and resilience to climate change is strengthened. There is an urgent need to find appropriate responses that support the environment for both refugee and host communities.
CIFOR-ICRAF, in partnership with other stakeholders engaged in displaced hosting landscapes, is working to demonstrate that the resilience and health of such landscapes is the basis for meeting the livelihood needs of refugees, internally displaced people and host communities. They aim to develop an “Engagement Landscape” for hosting sites in Central and Eastern Africa that brings together the wide range of stakeholders engaged in this sector. This will result in evidence-based co-design of scalable innovations to support environmental and livelihood resilience in displacement settings. These collaborations will focus on contextually appropriate forest- and tree-based options linking trees, agriculture, and pastoralism to increased energy access, food security, income generation, environmental services and improved local natural resource management.
This webinar is an opportunity for key stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities for concerted actions on sustainable natural resource management, and multifunctional landscapes, in areas hosting displaced people in Central Africa. The group will present on their experiences and will explore options for future collaboration and partnership to address these issues.