Violent conflicts, climate conditions and socioeconomic vulnerability in Africa

Federica Cappelli
Roma Tre University, Italy
Tuesday, 9 April 2019 - 12:00

We propose an analysis of the multiple linkages between armed conflicts and climate-related variables based on an original georeferenced database covering the entire African continent with a grid resolution of 1°x 1° for the period 1990-2016. A dynamic spatial panel Durbin model is applied to detect both short and medium-term impacts of changes in climate-related variables as well the role played by spatial spillovers. Different channels explaining violent conflicts at the local scale level are jointly included, as resource abundance, socio-economic conditions and institutional quality. A conflict trap mechanism is empirically found through the dynamic econometric estimation that controls for persistence over time of conflicts. The spatial specification allows to quantify also the contagious effect across space, that persists in a radius of more than 300 km. Socio-economic conditions at the local level play a significant role in shaping the magnitude of conflicting events, as more populated places characterised by slow economic growth path are those suffering the higher probability to experience violent circumstances. Climate-related variables play a significant role in determining the strength and duration of armed conflicts, with different effects depending on the temporal horizon. We find a strong link between an increase in temperature and conflict through both direct and indirect pathways by which temperature affects conflict levels in a given area. The increase in temperature particularly over a medium-term horizon seems to give impulse to conflicting actions, and this nexus is strongly reinforced by what occurs in neighbouring cells. We finally find that a constant reduction in rainfalls with respect to a medium-term benchmark reinforces the occurrence of conflicting events. This phenomenon seems to be more confined at the geographical scale since spillover effects are negligible.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
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Short CV: 

Federica Cappelli holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a MSc in Environmental and Development Economics, both obtained at Roma Tre University (Rome, Italy). From April 2017 to September 2017 she worked as a research assistant in Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei – FEEM (Milan, Italy), where she was part of the research team dealing with society and sustainability issues in European cities. In October 2017 she started her PhD in Environmental Economics at Roma Tre University. Her thesis aims at studying empirically the impact of climate change on the onset of armed conflicts in the African continent.