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Come rain or shine: An analysis of conflict and climate variability in East Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Clionadh Raleigh

    (Trinity College Dublin & Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO))

  • Dominic Kniveton

    (University of Sussex)

Abstract

Previous research on environment and security has contested the existence, nature and significance of a climate driver of conflict. In this study, we have focused on small-scale conflict over East Africa where the link between resource availability and conflict is assumed to be more immediate and direct. Using the parameter of rainfall variability to explore the marginal influence of the climate on conflict, the article shows that in locations that experience rebel or communal conflict events, the frequency of these events increases in periods of extreme rainfall variation, irrespective of the sign of the rainfall change. Further, these results lend support to both a ‘zero-sum’ narrative, where conflicting groups use force and violence to compete for ever-scarcer resources, and an ‘abundance’ narrative, where resources spur rent-seeking/wealth-seeking and recruitment of people to participate in violence. Within the context of current uncertainty regarding the future direction of rainfall change over much of Africa, these results imply that small-scale conflict is likely to be exacerbated with increases in rainfall variability if the mean climate remains largely unchanged; preferentially higher rates of rebel conflict will be exhibited in anomalously dry conditions, while higher rates of communal conflict are expected in increasingly anomalous wet conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Clionadh Raleigh & Dominic Kniveton, 2012. "Come rain or shine: An analysis of conflict and climate variability in East Africa," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(1), pages 51-64, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:1:p:51-64
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    File URL: http://jpr.sagepub.com/content/49/1/51.abstract
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Frances Ruane & Xiaoheng Zhang, 2007. "Location Choices of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Europe after 1992," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp220, IIIS.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lopez-Uribe, Maria del Pilar & Castells-Quintana, David & McDermott, Thomas K. J., 2017. "Geography, institutions and development: a review ofthe long-run impacts of climate change," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65147, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Ore Koren & Benjamin E. Bagozzi, 2016. "From global to local, food insecurity is associated with contemporary armed conflicts," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, pages 999-1010.
    3. Jean-François Maystadt & Margherita Calderone & Liangzhi You, 2015. "Local warming and violent conflict in North and South Sudan," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, pages 649-671.
    4. Stijn van Weezel, 2016. "Communal violence in the Horn of Africa following the 1998 El Niño," Working Papers 201617, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    5. Stijn van Weezel, 2017. "Communal violence in the Horn of Africa following the 1998 El Niño," HiCN Working Papers 241 updated, Households in Conflict Network.
    6. Jeroen Klomp & Erwin Bulte, 2013. "Climate change, weather shocks, and violent conflict: a critical look at the evidence," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 44(s1), pages 63-78, November.
    7. David Castells-Quintana & Maria del Pilar Lopez-Uribe & Tom McDermott, 2015. "Climate change and the geographical and institutional drivers of economic development," GRI Working Papers 198, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    8. von Grebmer, Klaus & Bernstein, Jill & Prasai, Nilam & Yin, Sandra & Yohannes, Yisehac & Towey, Olive & Sonntag, Andrea & Neubauer, Larissa & de Waal, Alex, 2015. "2015 Global hunger index: Armed conflict and the challenge of hunger," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-964-1.
    9. Jean-François Maystadt & Olivier Ecker, 2014. "Extreme Weather and Civil War: Does Drought Fuel Conflict in Somalia through Livestock Price Shocks?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1157-1182.
    10. von Grebmer, Klaus & Bernstein, Jill & Prasai, Nilam & Yin, Sandra & Yohannes, Yisehac & Towey, Olive & Sonntag, Andrea & Neubauer, Larissa & de Waal, Alex, 2015. "2015 Indice de la faim dans le monde: Conflict armés et le défi de la faim," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-966-5.
    11. Paul Evangelista & Nicholas Young & Jonathan Burnett, 2013. "How will climate change spatially affect agriculture production in Ethiopia? Case studies of important cereal crops," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 119(3), pages 855-873, August.
    12. von Grebmer, Klaus & Bernstein, Jill & Prasai, Nilam & Yin, Sandra & Yohannes, Yisehac & Towey, Olive & Sonntag, Andrea & Neubauer, Larissa & de Waal, Alex, 2015. "2015 Indice globale della fame: I conflitti armati e la sfida della fame," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-967-2.
    13. Achim Ahrens, 2015. "Civil conflicts in Africa: Climate, economic shocks, nighttime lights and spill-over effects," SEEC Discussion Papers 1501, Spatial Economics and Econometrics Centre, Heriot Watt University.
    14. Richard Akresh, 2016. "Climate Change, Conflict, and Children," HiCN Working Papers 221, Households in Conflict Network.
    15. Nicholas Stern, 2013. "The Structure of Economic Modeling of the Potential Impacts of Climate Change: Grafting Gross Underestimation of Risk onto Already Narrow Science Models," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 838-859.
    16. Stijn van Weezel, 2017. "Mostly Harmless? A Subnational Analysis of the Aid-Conflict Nexus," Working Papers 201728, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    17. Ole Theisen & Nils Gleditsch & Halvard Buhaug, 2013. "Is climate change a driver of armed conflict?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 613-625, April.

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