Spatial patterns of communal violence in sub-Saharan Africa

Journal article

Döring, Stefan & Katariina Mustasilta (2023) Spatial patterns of communal violence in sub-Saharan Africa, Journal of Peace Research. DOI: 10.1177/00223433231168187.

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Communal violence is a major source of insecurity within and across borders, sparking significant displacement flows and disturbing livelihoods. While conflict literature has shed light onto its causes, the existing research has paid little systematic attention to the spatial dynamics of communal violence. We distinguish between spillover of violence and spillover of predictors. Spillover of violence is defined as conflict incidences occurring as a direct response to communal violence in a nearby location. Spillover of predictors describes instances of communal violence that occur due to nearby conflict-inducing factors. We clarify theoretical pathways for both spillover processes, focusing on drought exposure affecting not locally but in nearby areas. Applying spatial models, we test the expectations regarding nearby violence breeding violence and nearby drought increasing violence with data on incidences of communal violence for sub-Saharan Africa (1990–2014). Our results demonstrate that communal violence explains nearby communal violence through different spillover processes. We also find evidence for an increase in violence due to exposure from neighborhood droughts as well as other conflict-inducing factors.

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