2019 marked 10 years since the beginning of the Boko Haram insurgency. While violent conflicts hardly ever have straightforward explanations, the narrative on the insurgency has been reductionist – largely addressing the role of religion and to some extent, other socio-economic indicators. Moreover, most of the literature on the drivers, impact and counter terrorism response has disproportionately focused on Nigeria. Consequently, data reflecting the regional spill-over of the insurgency has been very minimal. Finally, very little is known about the development response to the conflict in all affected countries in the Lake Chad Basin, including Nigeria. In an attempt to fill these gaps, this research sought to understand the nexus between conflict and development in all four riparian countries of Lake Chad, i.e. Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. It built on data from secondary sources and empirical evidence from extensive fieldwork, to examine the complexity of economic, social, cultural, political and environmental drivers of the conflict in all affected countries. It also took stock of the socio-economic impact of the conflict and critically assessed development interventions aimed at addressing fragility and building resilience to violent conflict in the affected countries and the Lake Chad Basin at large. The study found that apart from oft-cited religious indoctrination, the drivers of the Boko Haram insurgency in all four affected countries are best explained in terms of huge infrastructural deficits, poverty, unemployment, climate change, weak state capacity and governance-related constraints. It concluded that there is a very strong correlation between underdevelopment and conflict in the Basin. Against this background, while counter terrorism and de-radicalisation measures are necessary to prevent Boko Haram from establishing a foothold in the Lake Chad Basin, addressing the drivers and building resilience to conflict in the Basin requires the promotion of infrastructural and socio-economic development, poverty reduction, good governance, sustainable livelihoods and climate change adaptation. This thesis elaborates on these and broadens the literature on the Boko Haram insurgency, by departing from a Nigerian narrative to a regional perspective.
Thesis (PhD (Development Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2020.