An analysis of regime capacity and a nascent environmental conflict in the Niger River Basin

  • M. K. Mahlakeng University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Hussein Solomon University of the Free State, South Africa
Keywords: Niger River Basin (NRB), Homer-Dixon Environmental Scarcity Theory, Regime Theory, Environmental Scarcity, Environmental conflict, Regime capacity, Niger Basin Authority, Nigerrivier-vallei, Homer-Dixon Omgewingskaarste-teorie, Regime-teorie, Omgewingskaarstes, Omgewingskonflik, Regime-kapasiteit, Nigervallei-owerheid


The Niger River Basin (RNB) is and has been important to the cultural and socio-economic development of the West African region. However, the basin, which is home to some of the poorest countries in the world, might be experiencing a new landscape of conflict with water resources being a key factor. A combination of climate change, human population growth and unsustainable resource use is threatening the RNB. The purpose of this article is to determine, through the Homer-Dixon Environmental Scarcity Theory, the impact and effects of environmental scarcity in contributing to a nascent conflict in the RNB. The article conceptualises Homer-Dixon’s Environmental Scarcity Theory as a theory that argues for the potential of conflict in transboundary river basins as a result of environmental scarcity. Furthermore, the article conceptualises Regime Theory, particularly in the RNB, as treaties on international rivers that hold essential norms and encourage rule-based cooperation to politically resolve problems and conflict in the field of international river basin management. The article will therefore use Regime Theory to examine the existence and formation, role and progress (i.e. successes and challenges) of the regimes and/or institutional mechanisms that aim to deal with environmental scarcity in the RNB.


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