Using a novel climate–water conflict vulnerability index to capture double exposures in Lake Chad

Climate variability is amongst an array of threats facing agricultural livelihoods, with its effects unevenly distributed. With resource conflict being increasingly recognised as one significant outcome of climate variability and change, understanding the underlying drivers that shape differential vulnerabilities in areas that are double-exposed to climate and conflict has great significance. Climate change vulnerability frameworks are rarely applied in water conflict research. This article presents a composite climate–water conflict vulnerability index based on a double exposure framework developed from advances in vulnerability and livelihood assessments. We apply the index to assess how the determinants of vulnerability can be useful in understanding climate variability and water conflict interactions and to establish how knowledge of the climate–conflict linked context can shape interventions to reduce vulnerability. We surveyed 240 resource users (farmers, fishermen and pastoralists) in seven villages on the south-eastern shores of Lake Chad in the Republic of Chad to collect data on a range of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity variables. Results suggest that pastoralists are more vulnerable in terms of climate-structured aggressive behaviour within a lake-based livelihoods context where all resource user groups show similar levels of exposure to climate variability. Our approach can be used to understand the human and environmental security components of vulnerability to climate change and to explore ways in which conflict-structured climate adaptation and climate-sensitive conflict management strategies can be integrated to reduce the vulnerability of populations in high-risk, conflict-prone environments.

Regional Environmental Change