Article written by 2009 DPDF State Violence Fellow Andrew M. Linke, John O’Loughlin, J. Terrence McCabe, Jaroslav Tir, and Frank D.W. Witmer, featured in Global Environmental Change, Volume 34:
In the debate about possible linkages between global environmental change and violent conflict, the research is overwhelmingly based on analysis of aggregate data for administrative areas, towns or villages, and geographic grids. With some exceptions, researchers rarely examine social and political processes that might link climate anomalies and violence experiences at the scale of individuals or households. We remedy this shortcoming by analyzing survey data for 504 Kenyans living in three counties collected in November 2013. We probe respondents’ attitudes concerning perceived precipitation irregularities and their beliefs and economic activities. We find that in areas with reported worsening drought conditions, inter-community dialogue between ethnic groups has a pacifying conditional influence on support for the use of violence. The presence of local official rules regulating natural resource use consistently has no effect on beliefs about using violence where droughts are reported. To reduce possible bias in the reporting of drought conditions, our statistical models are estimated with controls for changes in measured vegetation health over time in survey sample areas. The moderating effect of inter-community dialogue on attitudes about violence under circumstances of environmental stress points to the importance of social and political contexts in studying connections between environmental change and conflict.