Local conditions of drought-related violence in sub-Saharan Africa – The role of roads and water infrastructures

Journal of Peace Research
Detges, Adrien 2016: Local conditions of drought-related violence in sub-Saharan Africa. The role of roads and water infrastructures. In: Journal of Peace Research, 53:5, pp. 696-710.

Despite growing concerns about the possible security implications of extreme precipitation shortfalls in vulnerable and politically fragile regions, the particular conditions that make armed violence more or less likely in times of drought remain poorly understood. Using a spatially disaggregated research design and focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the present analysis assesses the extent to which violent and nonviolent outcomes in the wake of drought can be accounted for by regional differences in the provision of key infrastructures that prevent violence and help populations to cope with drought. The results indicate that civil conflict events connected to drought are more likely in administrative areas with poorly developed road infrastructures. Drought-related communal violence, on the other hand, is more likely in regions where a significant portion of the population lacks access to an improved water source. Thus, while the provision of key infrastructures seems to moderate local conflict risks connected with drought, it is nevertheless important to distinguish different types of infrastructures and forms of armed violence. However, the importance of precipitation shortfalls as a conflict-facilitating factor in sub-Saharan Africa should not be overstated, as the overall contribution of drought to predicting violent events is modest in all calculated models.