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

Journal of Peace Research

Published online on


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 how far violent and nonviolent outcomes in the wake of drought can be accounted for by regional differences in the provision of key infrastructures that help coping with drought and preventing violence. The results indicate that civil conflict events in connection with 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 an important part of the population lacks access to an improved water source. Thus, while the provision of key infrastructures seems to moderate local conflict risks in connection with drought, there are nevertheless important distinctions with regard to 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 measures to predicting violent events is modest in all calculated models.