NEW YORK - More than 16 million people affected by conflict and climate change in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger need humanitarian aid, according to an American NGO report published on Monday.

This represents a 172 percent rise on 2016, the US International Rescue Committee said in its report on the Sahel region.

The three countries are facing a deadly jihadist insurgency which began in Mali more than a decade ago, and most of the central Sahel "is highly exposed to changes in climate", it warned.

The report said temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the rest of the world with an increase of between two and 4.3 degrees Celsius projected by 2080.

Dry seasons are becoming longer in parts of the Sahel, and rainfall more intense and erratic, meaning droughts and floods are set to intensify, it said.

Niger is one of the countries hit hardest by climate change, losing 100,000 hectares of arable land each year to desert, according to the United Nations.

Vicious cycle

There is a "vicious cycle of climate change and armed conflict", and the crisis disproportionately affects women, the NGO added.

Nearly three million people have been displaced, including two million just in Burkina Faso, it said.

The report placed blame on French colonial-era authorities, who "neglected" developing peripheral areas and introduced disruptive border controls, as well as post-independence governments.

"Political decisions dating from the French colonial rule through the early 2000s have marginalised peripheral areas of the Central Sahel states both economically and politically," the report said.

"As a result, the populations of these regions face widespread poverty, are particularly dependent on sectors vulnerable to climate change and are more likely to be exposed to armed conflict.

"They therefore suffer a disproportionate burden of the compound crisis."

Frequent military coups

The NGO also says "frequent military coups" - 17 in the region since 1960 - have disrupted economic policy and forced governments to concentrate their spending on defence.

The organisation has called for immediate aid and investment in humanitarian access.

However, tense diplomatic relations may get in the way of negotiating aid packages.

Burkina Faso and Mali are run by military juntas countries and both have severed military ties with France, the traditional ally of countries in the Sahel, while Mali has brought in Russian paramilitaries to support its military.

Meanwhile, Niger has become the hub for over 2,000 French troops from Operation Barkhane, who were pulled out of Mali last year when diplomatic relations broke down.