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Come rain, or come wells: How access to groundwater affects communal violence
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6949-7084
2020 (English)In: Political Geography, ISSN 0962-6298, E-ISSN 1873-5096, Vol. 76, article id 102073Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article empirically analyzes the relationship between groundwater scarcity and incidences of communal violence. Case studies suggest that appropriating water is more likely when resource scarcities are not effectively mitigated and where property rights are disputed. Yet, covering water more broadly remains piecemeal in quantitative research on communal conflict. While water scarcity features in large-N literature on climate variability and nonstate conflicts, such studies rely heavily on rainfall data which covers only one aspect of the hydrological cycle. Employing precipitation data alone neglects the use of groundwater, an important factor for drought resilience and the source for 50% of global drinking water. While rainfall remains key for agriculture, pastoralists and smallscale farmers in particular rely on groundwater as a buffer during dry periods. Thus, analyses on water scarcity and conflict ought to combine measures for groundwater, surface water, and precipitation. While controlling for other sources of water, the lack of groundwater access is hypothesized to increase incidences of violent communal conflict. The effect of groundwater on communal violence is also argued to vary with the presence of drought, low rainfall, in densely populated areas, and with state presence. These propositions are tested through large-N analyses using previously not utilized data on water availability with incidence data on violent conflict for Africa and the Middle East (1990–2014). The results show that lacking access to groundwater is associated with a higher risk of communal violence. Further, the effect of groundwater access on communal violence is conditioned by precipitation levels as well as population density. The results also suggest that the effect of groundwater on violence is smaller in areas with higher state presence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 76, article id 102073
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Political Science
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-395188DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2019.102073OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-395188DiVA, id: diva2:1360971
Available from: 2019-10-14 Created: 2019-10-14 Last updated: 2019-10-15Bibliographically approved

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Döring, Stefan

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