Prof. Dr. Steve William Tonah – Awarded Research Prize

Prof. Dr. Steve William Tonah of the Department of Sociology at the University of Ghana and SMUS advanced researcher has been awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Research Prize. He will give a hybrid laureate lecture on Displacement in West Africa: An Examination of the Key Drivers and Durable Solutions, on 3rd May 2022, 18:00.

Displacement in West Africa: An Examination of the Key Drivers and Durable Solutions

This presentation will take place in person at the University Göttingen (Germany) and online. To register for the in-person event please send an email to

To participate online, please register in advance:

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After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Displacements, both internal and international, are a common phenomenon in the West African sub-region. In most countries displacements occur on a localized scale and are a result of human-made and natural disasters such as floods, tidal erosion, recurrent drought, desertification, environmental land degradation and localized violent conflicts. At the sub-regional level, in spite of the different national conditions, there are three main identifiable sources of displacement. These are, first, wars, insurgency and insecurity in the Sahel and the Lake Chad regions; second, recurrent drought, desertification and poverty in the Sahel; and lastly, farmer-herder violent conflicts, particularly in Nigeria.

The impact of these varied sources of displacement on the population and environment in the sub-region, as well as the resulting political instability and deepening poverty and disillusionment among large sections of the population are examined. It is argued that the sources of displacement in the Sahelian countries are interlinked and contagious, leading to fears that they could spread to the coastal West African countries. This paper will propose some durable solutions to these hydra-headed difficulties in West Africa, particularly the Sahel region.