Boiling point in Africa: Climate change and inter-group conflict across the continent


Published 03.03.21
Photo credit:
Rod Waddington/flickr

Resource constraints due to climate change are increasing conflicts between herders and farmers trying to make a living

Read “Heat and hate: Climate security and farmer-herder conflicts in Africa” by Ulrich Eberle, Dominic Rohner, and Mathias Thoenig here

According to the United Nations, climate change presents severe existential threats to humanity through changing weather patterns that impact the availability of natural resources, food production systems, and human settlement patterns. As droughts and food shortages become more frequent, conflicts over resources are expected to increase. In this VoxDevTalk, Dominic Rohner discusses his recent work with Ulrich Eberle and Mathias Thoenig which examines how rising temperatures due to climate change have increased conflicts between herders and farmers in Africa, as well as the warning signs this presents for the coming decades. 

Their research reveals that a rise in temperatures leads to a greater probability of conflict between herders and farmers, and that looking ahead to 2040, conflict will increase across the continent by as much as a third due to climate change. “Climate change makes it harder for herding groups to feed their livestock”, says Rohner, which results in them increasing their geographic spread to provide for their cattle, raising the likelihood of resource competition with neighboring groups. To reduce violence, the enforcement of property rights, land dispute resolution mechanisms, and development of democratic institutions should be prioritised.

Editors' note: This interview first appeared on VoxEU.