Climate Change, Food Insecurity and Violent Conflict

Flood-resistant garden in the suburbs of Bamako, Mali
Flood-resistant garden in the suburbs of Bamako, Mali © Colin Walch 

Project overview

Project Leader

Other Project Employees

Project Period

  • 2017 – 2021

Project Description

Climate change and extreme weather events are increasingly regarded as a significant threat to social stability and peace. Academics and policy makers are particularly concerned with how climate-related shocks may affect agricultural production and food security as factors contributing to armed conflict. Yet, the question of when and how climate induced food insecurity leads to armed conflict is still debated in academia. This projects contributes to this research agenda addressing two specific research priorities.

  1. Explore the institutional context under which climate-induced food insecurity is most likely to increase the risk of political violence
  2. Understand the behaviours of and interactions between non-state armed groups, civilians and the government in response to climate-induced food insecurity

The project combines global statistical analysis with in-depth case studies of the Philippines and Mali in order to make theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of which institutions matter most for preventing the adverse societal effects of climate change.

The project is financed by a joint research grant by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and FORMAS.


  • Von Uexkull, Nina, Marco d’Errico, and Julius Jackson (2020). “Drought, Resilience, and Support for Violence: Household Survey Evidence from DR Congo.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, online first.  
  • Busby, Joshua, and Nina von Uexkull. 2018.  "Climate Shocks and Humanitarian Crises.Foreign Affairs. 29 Nov. 2018. 
  • Nina von Uexkull & Therese Pettersson (2018) Issues and Actors in African Nonstate Conflicts: A New Data SetInternational Interactions, 44:5, 953-968.
  • Walch, Colin (2018) Weakened by the storm Rebel group recruitment in the wake of natural disasters in the Philippines Journal of Peace Research 55(3):336-350.
  • Walch, Colin (2018) The limits of resilience: Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines Critical Asian Studies, 50(1):122-135.
  •  Walch, Colin (2018) Adaptive governance in the developing world: disaster risk reduction in the State of Odisha, India, Climate and DevelopmentForthcoming: DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2018.1442794. 
  • Walch, Colin (2018): Evacuation ahead of natural disasters: Evidence from cyclone Phailin in India and typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Geo: Geography and Environment 5(1):1-16.
  • Walch, Colin (2018): Disaster risk reduction amidst armed conflict: informal institutions, rebel groups, and wartime political ordersDisasters.
  • Walch. Colin (2018) “Natural disaster and war" in Matthew et al. (dir.) the Routledge Handbook of Environmental Security. Forthcoming.
  • Walch, Colin, Geoffroy, Florence (2017) Disaster Risk Management in Asia Asia Trends 2(1);2-3.
  • Walch, Colin  (2017) "From curse to blessing: How natural resources affect peace and conflict in the Philippines" in Swain, A, (dir.) Routledge of Environmental Conflict and Peacebuilding.

Related publications

  • Buhaug, Halvard, Jonas Nordkvelle, Thomas Bernauer, Tobias Böhmelt, Michael Brzoska, Joshua W. Busby, Antonio Ciccone, Hanne Fjelde, Erik Gartzke, Nils Petter Gleditsch, Jack A. Goldstone, Håvard Hegre, Helge Holtermann, Jasmin S. A. Link, P. Michael  Link, Päivi Lujala, John O’Loughlin, Clionadh Raleigh, Jürgen Scheffran, Janpeter Schilling, Todd G. Smith, Ole Magnus Theisen, Richard S. J. Tol, Henrik Urdal, and Nina von Uexkull . 2014. “One Effect to Rule Them All? A Comment on Climate and Conflict.” Climatic Change 127(3-4): 391–97.
  • Fjelde, H. (2015). “Farming or Fighting? Agricultural Price Shocks and Civil War in Africa.” World Development, 67, 525–534.  
  • Fjelde, H., & von Uexkull, N. (2012). “Climate triggers: Rainfall anomalies, vulnerability and communal conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Political Geography, 31 (7), 444–453. 
  • von Uexkull, N., Croicu, M., Fjelde, H., & Buhaug, H. (2016). “Civil conflict sensitivity to growing-season drought.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences113(44), 12391–12396. 
  • Von Uexkull, N. (2014). “Sustained drought, vulnerability and civil conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Political Geography, 43, 16–26.
  • Walch, Colin (2015) "Expertise and policy-making in disaster risk reduction". Nature Climate Change, 5(8):706-707.
  • Walch, Colin (2014), “Collaboration or obstruction? Rebel group behaviour during natural disaster relief in the Philippines.” Political Geography 43: 40-50.

Last modified: 2023-01-12