Droughts, state-citizen relations and support for political violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: A micro-level analysis

Political Geography journal
Detges, Adrien 2017: Droughts, state-citizen relations and support for political violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: A micro-level analysis. In: Political Geography, 61, 88-98.

Droughts are unlikely to influence support for political violence unless they coincide with unfavourable social and political conditions. In this article Adrien Detges suggests that support for violence in times of drought depends on people's relationship with their government and the way in which this relationship determines their vulnerability to adverse climatic shocks.

Droughts impose serious economic pressures on affected people, especially in Sub-Saharan countries, where access to alternative sources of water is often limited. People who enjoy good relations with the sitting regime and who benefit from a wide range of public services are more likely to overcome these pressures. On the other hand, politically neglected, marginalised and disaffected people have many more difficulties in coping with drought and are likely to blame their government for it. This, in turn, can pave the way for endorsing more radical attitudes and even violence against the government and its (presumed) political supporters.

The results of the analysis in this article partly confirm this idea. Exposure to drought per se does not seem to influence attitudes towards political violence in a statistically significant way. However, Adrien Detges finds both people who are politically discriminated against and people who do not trust their head of state to be more inclined to endorse political violence when hit by severe drought. These findings, which are consistent across a number of alternative model specifications, show that fragile state-citizen relations play an important part in the processes linking drought exposure and support for political violence.