International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War & Armed Conflict (6 Nov, 2018)

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We observed the UN’s International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict yesterday. The impacts of war are and will continue causing damage to the natural environment. We should all come together and work together to find ways to reduce environmental destruction caused by armed conflict and war.

Many conflicts and wars have occurred over the year. Many still happen in Africa and it might take years for Africa to recognize the need to prevent environmental disasters during these times. However, Conflict and war have occurred all over the world and many or all of them have had a devastating impact on the environment. We look at some of the contribution of these conflict to deterioration of environment over the years and present day.



In the Eritrea and Ethiopia war  of 1961 – 1991 the environment was affected massive by;

  • Reduction of country forest by third
  • Resulted in massive soil erosion
  • Reduction of wildlife population
  • Sedimentation of rivers and reservoirs occurred
  • Led to massive crop failure

World War 1 (1914 – 1981) and World War 2 (1939 – 1945) which resulted in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the environment

  • Human were affected and environment suffered largely
  • It caused air pollution emanating from dust and radioactive debris
  • Fire burned for 6 weeks destroying plants and wildlife
  • Pollution of water by radioactive particles occurred
  • Damned thousands of tons of munitions e.g. landmines on the ground which resulted in contamination of the ground for decades

In East Africa conflict like the Congo, Somali have resulted to;

  • Deforestation
  • Soil erosion
  • Spiraling population
  • Uncontrolled urban migration

Afghanistan war of 1990 – 2007 accelerated destruction and degradation of forest and wetlands

  • Afghanistan forest decreased to 38%
  • Led to drought
  • Desertification
  • Loss of animal species
  • Environmental destruction
  • Threaten migration of birds number dropped to 85% in the united states
  • Wildlife such as snow leopards became endangered

Gulf war occurred in 1990 – 1997 between United States

  • 736 oil wells was set ablaze fire burnt until November 1991 causing impenetrable black clouds
  • Contributed to acid rain
  • Local air quality was affected
  • Use of toxic uranium occurred

Angola civil war of 1992 – 1994 led to

  • Loss of agricultural land to landmines
  • Deforestation for cooking
  • Displacement of humans beings and settlement of population in small areas greatly affecting land

Sierra Leon civil war in the 50s and 60s of the 19th century

  • Resulted in deforestation
  • Population pressure on land
  • Depopulation of some areas

There are countries in the world that are still experiencing conflict and due to these the environment continues to suffer. It is vital for the world to recognize the impact of war on environment a place measure to curb this degradation.

Compiled by Grace C. Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library