Communal violence in the Horn of Africa following the 1998 El Niño

Year: 2017 HiCN Working Paper No. 241

This study exploits a shift in Spring precipitation patterns in the Horn of Africa following the 1998 El Niño to examine the effect of climate change on conflict. Using data for Ethiopia and Kenya and focusing on communal conflict the regression analysis links districts that have experienced drier conditions since 1999 relative to 1981-1998 with higher conflict levels. This result is robust to different model specifications and changing outcome variable but does not generalise well to out-of-sample data. The cross-validation illustrates that the model linking droughts with conflict has a relatively poor predictive performance. The results also show that districts with substantial shares of pastoralism experience higher levels of communal violence, something that is well documented in the qualitative literature, but don’t face higher risks following decreases in precipitation levels.