Drought, Migration and Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa: What are the Links and Policy Options?

Stephen Adaawen*, Christina Rademacher-Schulz, Benjamin Schraven, Nadine Segadlo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Droughts are becoming more frequent and severe due to ongoing global climatic changes, contributing to the loss of farmland, declining crop yields, and loss of livestock in especially arid and semi-arid areas across the globe. Drought affects water availability and quality, pastoral livelihoods, and hydro-electric generation in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Rural societies in SSA have long adapted to droughts, but growing impacts on food security, water and rural livelihoods, combined with population growth and natural resource scarcity, are leading to increases in the number of internally displaced persons and in migration more generally.
Many believe that drought-induced mobility leads to competition and stress in resource-scarce areas, and increases the tendency for competition to degenerate into violence and conflicts. In the Sahel, East and Southern Africa, drought-related farmer-herder conflicts and water tensions have become common and widespread, raising concerns that such tensions have been major precursors for violent conflicts and human insecurity on the African continent. However, this chapter suggests that the link between drought, migration and conflict is complex, and is influenced by a multiplicity of environmental, socio-economic and political factors. Based on a critical review of empirical research on the subject across SSA, this chapter prescribes policy options that include the need for integrated early warning systems, the promotion of weather-based crop insurance schemes, the development of drought mitigation tools, and the need to incorporate disaster risk reduction components into long term development planning. Such measures would contribute to addressing the direct impacts of droughts, migration as an adaptation strategy, and conflict prevention and resolution in vulnerable regions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrought Challenges
Subtitle of host publicationPolicy Options for Developing Countries
EditorsEveristo Mapedza, Daniel Tsegai, Michael Brüntrup, Robert McLeman
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780128148211
ISBN (Print)9780128148204
Publication statusPublished - 12-Oct-2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCurrent Directions in Water Scarcity Research


  • Droughts
  • Mobility
  • Conflict
  • Water Scarcity
  • Food Security
  • Farmer-Herder

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