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Does climate change drive land-use conflicts in the Sahel?

Author

Listed:
  • Tor A Benjaminsen

    (Norwegian University of Life Sciences & Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO))

  • Koffi Alinon

    (Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO))

  • Halvard Buhaug

    (Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO))

  • Jill Tove Buseth

    (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

Abstract

While climate change scenarios for the Sahel vary and are uncertain, the most popularized prediction says there will progressively be drier conditions with more erratic rainfall. According to some, an increase in violent conflicts over scarce resources should also be expected. This article investigates the climate–conflict nexus in detail, focusing on a distinct area at the heart of the Sahel, the inland delta of the Niger river in the Mopti region of Mali. Two complementary analytical approaches are applied. The first consists of collection and analysis of court data on land-use conflicts, 1992–2009, from the regional Court of Appeal in Mopti. A comparison of the conflict data with statistics on contemporaneous climatic conditions gives little substance to claims that climate variability is an important driver of these conflicts. Second, we carried out a qualitative analysis of one of the many land-use conflicts in the region. Again, we find that factors other than those directly related to environmental conditions and resource scarcity dominate as plausible explanations of the violent conflict. We argue that three structural factors are the main drivers behind these conflicts: agricultural encroachment that obstructed the mobility of herders and livestock, opportunistic behavior of rural actors as a consequence of an increasing political vacuum, and corruption and rent seeking among government officials.

Suggested Citation

  • Tor A Benjaminsen & Koffi Alinon & Halvard Buhaug & Jill Tove Buseth, 2012. "Does climate change drive land-use conflicts in the Sahel?," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(1), pages 97-111, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:1:p:97-111
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    Cited by:

    1. Papaioannou, Kostadis J. & de Haas, Michiel, 2017. "Weather Shocks and Agricultural Commercialization in Colonial Tropical Africa: Did Cash Crops Alleviate Social Distress?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 346-365.
    2. Hassani-Mahmooei, Behrooz & Parris, Brett W., 2013. "Resource scarcity, effort allocation and environmental security: An agent-based theoretical approach," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 183-192.
    3. Richard Matthew, 2014. "Integrating climate change into peacebuilding," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 83-93, March.
    4. 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.
    5. Chen, Junyi & McCarl, Bruce A. & Price, Edwin & Wu, Ximing & Bessler, David A., 2016. "Climate as a Cause of Conflict: An Econometric Analysis," 2016 Annual Meeting, February 6-9, 2016, San Antonio, Texas 229783, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    6. Hassani Mahmooei, Behrooz & Parris, Brett, 2012. "Why might climate change not cause conflict? an agent-based computational response," MPRA Paper 44918, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. François Gemenne & Jon Barnett & W. Adger & Geoffrey Dabelko, 2014. "Climate and security: evidence, emerging risks, and a new agenda," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 1-9, March.
    8. Frederick Ato Armah & Mengieng Ung & Sheila A. Boamah & Isaac Luginaah & Gwyn Campbell, 2017. "Out of the frying pan into the fire? Urban penalty of the poor and multiple barriers to climate change adaptation in Cambodia and Tanzania," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 7(1), pages 69-86, March.
    9. Kostadis J. Papaioannou & Michiel de Haas, 2015. "Climate shocks, cash crops and resilience: Evidence from colonial tropical Africa," Working Papers 0076, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    10. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    climate change; conflicts; Mali; Sahel;

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