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Subnational violent conflict forecasts for sub-Saharan Africa 2015-2065, using climate-sensitive models


How will local violent conflict patterns in sub-Saharan Africa evolve until the middle of the 21st century? Africa is recognized as a particularly vulnerable continent to environmental and climate change since a large portion of its population is poor and reliant on rain-fed agriculture. We use a climate-sensitive approach to model sub-Saharan African violence in the past (geolocated to the nearest settlements) and then forecast future violence using sociopolitical factors such as population size and political rights (governance), coupled with temperature anomalies. Our baseline model is calibrated using 1° gridded monthly data from 1980 to 2012 at a finer spatio-temporal resolution than existing conflict forecasts. We present multiple forecasts of violence under alternative climate change scenarios (optimistic and current global trajectories), of political rights scenarios (improvement and decline), and population projections (low and high fertility). We evaluate alternate shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs) by plotting violence forecasts over time and by detailed mapping of recent and future levels of violence by decade. The forecasts indicate that a growing population and rising temperatures will lead to higher levels of violence in sub-Saharan Africa if political rights do not improve. If political rights continue to improve at the same rate as observed over the last three decades, there is reason for optimism that overall levels of violence will hold steady or even decline in Africa, in spite of projected population increases and rising temperatures.

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