November 22, 2015
This report examines interactions between conflict and disasters associated with natural hazards. It presents an unprecedented survey of cases in which conflict and disaster coincide—each a complex phenomenon in its own right, as in the worsening Horn of Africa crisis. In most instances, the disaster-conflict interface increased the risk of future crises and hampered crisis recovery efforts.
According to this study, disasters and conflicts frequently occur together, often devastating countries that are least able to sustain them, but good governance can speed recovery and lessen the likelihood of recurrence.
- Disasters and conflict that happen at the same time intensify risk of future crises and damage people’s lives which further undermines their coping capacities and increases their poverty levels.
- Disasters – particularly those associated with drought and desertification, and rapid-onset disasters – are more likely to contribute to conflicts over limited natural resources than any other type of conflict.
- Small-scale rapid onset disasters are less likely to contribute to national level/widespread conflict, but can have a significant impact on local-level conflict, particularly when they (re)-occur in highly vulnerable and resource-scarce contexts.
- Slow onset protracted disasters such as those involving drought can deepen conflict over resources across large areas when they occur in places where people face high levels of poverty and competition over limited natural resources.