Integrating climate adaptation, water governance and conflict management policies in lake riparian zones: Insights from African drylands

As river basin authorities and national governments develop policies to achieve sustainable development outcomes, conflicting signals between existing policies are undermining cross-thematic integrative modes of policy planning. This raises fundamental questions over how coherent portfolios of policy interventions across vital themes can best be advanced and managed. Taking the Lake Chad Basin (LCB) as an empirical example, we analyse transboundary policies and intervention documents relating to climate adaptation, water governance and conflict management to ascertain the interdependencies at the adaptation-water-peace nexus. Using a Qualitative Document Analysis (QDA) approach and a set of subjective integration scoring criteria, we assess whether and how integration is planned, setting out ways forward for mutually beneficial integration actions. Despite recent progress in addressing lake drying and recognising cross-thematic challenges, most LCB intervention plans continue to adopt standalone basin-scale agendas and seldom consider action plan preparedness based on local-level assessments. Analysis of a few (existing) cross-thematic, well-integrated initiatives indicates that the timings of societal challenges and funding arrangements appear to play a key role in shaping policy strategies, the manner in which climate adaptation, water or security are treated and the level of integration attained. Based on the notion that integration is inherently desirable, we suggest a new ‘policy integration thinking’ that embraces a development landscape logic and balances short-term and long-term development priorities.

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