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Pathways to water conflict during drought in the MENA region

Tobias Ide, Miguel Rodriguez Lopez, Christiane Fröhlich and Jürgen Scheffran
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Tobias Ide: 2281University of Melbourne & and Murdoch University
Miguel Rodriguez Lopez: 14915University of Hamburg
Christiane Fröhlich: 64335German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
Jürgen Scheffran: 14915University of Hamburg

Journal of Peace Research, 2021, vol. 58, issue 3, 568-582

Abstract: As hydro-meteorological hazards are predicted to become more frequent and intense in the future, scholars and policymakers are increasingly concerned about their security implications, especially in the context of ongoing climate change. Our study contributes to this debate by analysing the pathways to water-related conflict onset under drought conditions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region between 1996 and 2009. It is also the first such analysis that focuses on small-scale conflicts involving little or no physical violence, such as protests or demonstrations. These nonviolent conflicts are politically relevant, yet understudied in the literature on climate change and conflict, environmental security, and political instability. We employ the method of qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to integrate quantitative and qualitative data at various scales (national, regional, local) for a sample of 34 cases (17 of which experienced conflict onset). Our findings show that pre-existing cleavages and either autocratic political systems or cuts of the public water supply are relevant predictors of nonviolent, water-related conflict onset during droughts. Grievances deeply embedded into socio-economic structures in combination with a triggering event like a drought or water cuts are hence driving such water-related conflicts, especially in the absence of proper political institutions. We thus argue that drought–conflict links are highly context-dependent even for nonviolent, local conflicts, hence challenging determinist narratives that claim direct interlinkages between climate change, hydro-meteorological disasters and conflict.

Keywords: climate change; Middle East; North Africa; protest; rainfall; security (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1177/0022343320910777

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