Paper: Disaster and conflict interaction: drivers of climate-related displacement

Paper details

Paper authors Nicolás Caso
In panel on Climate-Related Displacement, (Internal) Migration and Humanitarian Action
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


Over the last decades, climate change has been increasing the number and intensity of natural hazards. A larger exposure to more intense natural hazards has resulted in an increase of climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts. This type of disasters is among the main drivers of climate-related displacement, a growing concerning process worldwide. The worrying increase of climate-related displacement has gained the attention and concern of many humanitarian actors that deal with the effects of these crises. Moreover, many studies convey that disasters can be even more acute in places affected by conflict and not surprisingly, the occurrence of disaster is higher in places affect by conflicts. Theoretically, the main reason for this is that both phenomena share common root causes, such as poverty or fragile governance, reinforcing each other’s occurrence. However, quantitative analyses of how much disaster and conflict co-occur and correlate have been scarce or not able to yield sound results.

We base our presentation on two journal articles that seek to contribute to the debate on disaster and conflict relations by building a robust cross-country model on the interaction between disaster and conflict. One article shows that armed conflicts are closely and positively correlated with the occurrence of disasters and increase their probability of occurring between 5% and 6%. Moreover, in armed conflict settings, the deaths by disasters per year are 34% higher, the average deaths per disaster per year are 26% higher, and the deaths per million inhabitants are 16% higher. The other article shows that, despite the rise in the co-occurrence of disasters and armed conflicts, there is no statistically significant evidence to suggest that disasters trigger or sustain armed conflicts—at least directly—at the macro (country) level. Instead, we find that cross-country variation in armed conflict is largely explained by preconditioning factors (namely, lower levels of development, less democratic accountability, and larger population size) and past conflict experiences and resource dependence (as an additional conflict trigger). With these results we provide extra evidence to sustain that climate-related disasters and displacement not only relate with confict, but might also reinforce the need and role to play by humanitarian actors.



Nicolás Caso