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Climate Change and Urban (Political) Violence in Sub-Sahara Africa


Accra, Kampala or Nairobi – African capitals are facing reoccurring and devastating floods during the yearly rainy season. Climate change induced increased frequency and intensity of rainfall gets aggravated by growing informal urban settlements that are sprawling along silted drainage systems. Built on former swamps or hillsides shelters of urban dwellers are most vulnerable to natural hazards. Losses and damages from floods threaten local livelihoods. Flood induced fatalities increased significantly over the last 50 years which has been linked to demographic changes as population figures in flood-prone informal urban settlements went up dramatically. Whereas the link between natural disasters (droughts) and conflict in the rural area is well established, literature on climate change-violence nexus in urban regions remains limited. Based on the assumption that factors such as economic hardship or horizontal inequalities are reinforced by urban flooding, the doctorate project tries to establish a link between adverse climate change (floods) and increased political violence in the urban sector. Following the argumentation that the aforementioned consequences of floods are push factors for violence, the study aims at endeavouring under what circumstances climate anomalies (floods) translate into political violence in the urban area.
Bridging the gap between large-n and qualitative case studies a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is conducted that covers 26 urban agglomerations in Sub-Sahara Africa. QCA seeks to overcome the weaknesses of both by investigating a smaller sample in more elaborated manner. Comparing 26 cities on the continent will help to identify relevant and promising causal pathways from flooding to violence. The second part of the project is dedicated to an in-depth case study of a city selected after analysis of the QCA study. Interviews and surveys on the ground will triangulate and qualify results proposed by the previous QCA study.


Dr. Benno Pokorny, Prof. Dr. Andreas Mehler, Dr. Gudrun Østby

Researcher: Erik Plänitz  (external PhD student: www.arnold-bergstraesser.de)
Funding: Nachwuchsförderung des Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institutes
Duration: 01. Januar 2017 – 31.Dezember 2019
Partner: Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institut für kulturwissenschaftliche Forschung e.V.






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