The Nexus of Climate, Crops, and Conflict in the Horn of Africa
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CitationGallant, Katherine. 2020. The Nexus of Climate, Crops, and Conflict in the Horn of Africa. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThe Horn of Africa is projected to experience drought and associated decreases in crop yields as the impacts of climate change accelerate in the coming decades. Due to high poverty and political instability, the Horn of Africa is expected to be particularly vulnerable to humanitarian crises precipitated by climate change induced drought. Climate change induced drought has the potential to exacerbate food insecurity, armed conflict and refugee migration.
My research was intended to quantify the relationship between temperature, rainfall, crop yields, armed conflict, and refugee numbers using a statistical analysis of the variables. With these relationship quantitatively defined, it would be possible to predict the increase and type of humanitarian crisis expected as climate change increasingly impacts the Horn of Africa, with broad implications for policy and development of climate change mitigation strategies. Which was the ultimate goal of my research
First, I tested hypothesis that the occurrence and severity of drought have been increasing in the Horn of Africa, specifically in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somali, and Sudan with the influence of climate change. I found that generally temperatures and rainfall throughout the region are increasing with time. This indicates that drought may not be an issue, but extreme rainfall events may be. Second, rainfall was analyzed in relation to crop yields using R, it was found to have a statistically significant relationship in Ethiopia, but not in the other countries in the analysis. This suggests that there may be a relationship between crop yield and rainfall/drought, but potentially there are confounding factors such as irrigation or agricultural policy that mitigate the impacts. Next, I tested the hypothesis drought is related to low crop yields, refugee crisis, and armed conflict in this region, with longer and more severe droughts being negatively correlated with crop yields and positively correlated with armed conflict and refugees. I used R programming for this analysis. No statistically significant relationship between crop yields, armed conflict and refugee numbers was found.
I calculated standardized precipitation index (SPI) using open source software from the University of Nebraska. SPI was calculated on a monthly basis and used to qualitatively assess the relationship of drought/wetness to crops, armed conflict, and refugees. Again, no clear relationship was noted.
My research indicates that climate change is happening in the Horn of Africa, with temperatures and rainfall showing a positive trend. I also found a possible relationship between crop yields and rainfall; however, further analysis must be conducted to determine the impact of agricultural policy and water rights allocations on crop yields within the context of holistic national food security. My analysis did not find a clear relationship between crop yields, armed conflict, and international refugee migration. Projection models were dropped from the scope of this analysis.
In the complex and volatile geopolitical landscape of the Horn of Africa continued research on the impact of climate change on humanitarian crisis should continue.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365620