Climate change, development, and conflict-fragility nexus in the Sahel

Shells are pictured in the dry bed of the evaporated Lake Faguibine, in Mbouna, northern Mali May 29, 2021. Picture taken May 29, 2021. Birom Seck-ICRC/Handout via REUTERS  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.


More than 40 years after a catastrophic famine struck the region, the Sahel has once again become the focus of global attention. Poor economic performance, growing instability, and deteriorating climate conditions have combined to produce a vicious circle of increased poverty, instability, and communal violence. By drying out sources of livelihoods for populations mainly dependent on natural resources, climate change reinforces long-existing rivalries and increasingly triggers violence. In this paper, we argue that while climate change is a proximate cause of violence, institutional failures and clientelism are the actual root causes.

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  • Footnotes
    1. The Oxford Handbook of Political Science defines “political clientelism” as “giving material goods in return for electoral support, where the criterion of distribution that the patron uses is simply: did you/will you support me?”