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Climate triggers: Rainfall anomalies, vulnerability and communal conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2012 (English)In: Political Geography, ISSN 0962-6298, E-ISSN 1873-5096, Vol. 31, no 7, 444-453 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The mounting evidence for climate change has put the security implications of increased climate variability high on the agenda of policymakers. However, several years of research have produced no consensus regarding whether climate variability increases the risk of armed conflict. Many have suggested that instead of outright civil war, climate variability is likely to heighten the risk of communal conflict. In particular, erratic rainfall, which reduces the availability of water and arable land, could create incentives for violent attacks against other communities to secure access to scarce resources. Yet, whether groups resort to violence in the face of environmentally induced hardship is likely to depend on the availability of alternative coping mechanisms, for example through market transfers or state accommodation. This suggests that the effect of rainfall anomalies on communal conflict will be stronger in the presence of economic and political marginalization. We evaluate these arguments statistically, utilizing a disaggregated dataset combining rainfall data with geo-referenced events data on the occurrence of communal conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa between 1990 and 2008. Our results suggest that large negative deviations in rainfall from the historical norm are associated with a higher risk of communal conflict. There is some evidence that the effect of rainfall shortages on the risk of communal conflict is amplified in regions inhabited by politically excluded ethno-political groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 31, no 7, 444-453 p.
Keyword [en]
Armed conflict, Climate change, Communal conflict, Environmental security, Rainfall, Sub-Saharan Africa
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-186754DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.08.004ISI: 000311529100005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-186754DiVA: diva2:572966
Note

Erratum in: Political Geography 2015:45, 98-99, doi: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2015.01.005

Available from: 2012-11-29 Created: 2012-11-29 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Climate, Conflict and Coping Capacity: The Impact of Climate Variability on Organized Violence
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Climate, Conflict and Coping Capacity: The Impact of Climate Variability on Organized Violence
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Understanding the conflict potential of climate variability is critical for assessing and dealing with the societal implications of climate change. Yet, it remains poorly understood under what circumstances – and how – extreme weather events and variation in precipitation patterns affect organized violence. This dissertation suggests that the impacts of climate variability on organized violence are conditional on specific climate patterns, the sensitivity of livelihoods, and state governance. These theoretical conjectures are subjected to novel empirical tests in four individual essays. Three essays investigate the relationship between climate variability and communal and civil conflict through sub-national quantitative analysis focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa. The fourth essay sheds light on causal mechanisms leading to participation in land-related conflict based on interview material on 75 ex-participants in violence from Mt. Elgon, Kenya. Essay I suggests that the exposure of vulnerable agricultural livelihoods to sustained drought increases the risk of civil conflict violence. Essay II indicates that rainfall anomalies increase the risk of communal violence, an effect which is amplified by political marginalization. Essay III finds support for the proposition that volatility in resource supply increases the risk of communal conflict over land and water in remote regions, which tend to have limited state presence. Essay IV proposes that individuals depending on agriculture are prone to participate in land-related conflict as they face impediments to leaving a conflict zone, and additionally have high incentives to partake in fighting for land. Taken together, the dissertation furthers our understanding of the specific economic and political context under which climate variability impacts armed conflict. This knowledge is important for conflict-sensitive adaptation to climate change and conflict prevention efforts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Peace and Conflict Research, 2016. 44 p.
Series
Report / Department of Peace and Conflict Research, ISSN 0566-8808 ; 111
Keyword
civil conflict, communal conflict, climate change, climate variability, Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya, geo-referenced event data, agricultural dependence, vulnerability
National Category
Political Science Climate Research
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-300183 (URN)978-91-506-2585-1 (ISBN)
External cooperation:
Public defence
2016-09-23, Zootissalen, EBC, Villavägen 9, Uppsala, 10:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Available from: 2016-09-01 Created: 2016-08-04 Last updated: 2016-09-01

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Fjelde, Hannevon Uexkull, Nina

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