Vulnerability to climate change and communal conflicts: evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa and South/South-East Asia

Cespic Working Paper 2021/07 (Sara Balestri, Raul Caruso)

This research work provides new evidence about the effect of vulnerability to climate change on the likelihood of communal violence, by sorting out regional-specific path- ways. We focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South/South-East Asia for the period 1995-2016, these regions being particularly exposed to climate effects and characterized predominantly by rain-fed agriculture and climate-sensitive economic activities. Relying on the ND-GAIN Vulnerability Index as a multidimensional measure for propensity of human societies to be negatively impacted by climate change, we found robust evidence that greater vulnerability is conducive to a higher risk of communal violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. On the other hand, in South/South-East Asia, results suggest that current climate variability, measured as rainfall deviations within the period, exerts a greater effect on communal violence outbreak than overall vulnerability to climate change. In both regions, greater access to productive means is associated to the reduction of conflict risk. Some policy implications were derived that suggest an integrated approach between climate policy-making and social stability efforts, given conditional effects of climate change over the likelihood of communal violence.

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