Corona Conflicts? Analysing Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Violent Conflict in Africa

  • At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, decision-makers warned that the pandemic might lead to more violent conflict in fragile states, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This project engages in a mixed-methods approach to study related relationships.
    Volkswagen Foundation, 2021-2022


    Mora Deitch

    Research Fellow


    Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

    Direktor des GIGA Instituts für Afrika-Studien / Redaktion GIGA Focus Afrika


    * Does the COVID-19 pandemic increase violent conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa?
    * How does the pandemic as well as government and societal responses to it create new or escalate existing conflicts?
    * What contextual factors such as fragility and other conflict risks contribute to the escalation of conflict?
    * What policies seem promising to avoid escalation for the present and future pandemics?

    Beitrag zu internationaler Forschung

    The project enagages in one of the first comprehensive analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on violent conflicts.

    Forschungsdesign und Methoden

    It uses an innovative theoretical model of escalation as a result of the virus shock and employs a nested research design that combines cross-country regressions and pertinent case studies.

    Vorläufige Ergebnisse

    Our first round of analysis suggests that the pandemic contributes to conflict escalation. However, the most robust finding is that strict lockdowns increase "COVID-19 unrest", which forms a fraction of the violence only. Pre-pandemic fragility best explains a recent increase in violence in the region. However, there are indications that economic shocks will exacerbate existing distributional conflicts and elite power struggles in the future. This is best illustrated by the case studies of Ethiopia and South Africa where pandemic related effects like the postponing of an election (Ethiopia) and economic hardships by lockdowns (South Africa) contributed to esclation in 2020 and 2021 but were in themselves not the main causes of escalation.

    GIGA Working Papers | 09.2021

    One Year After: Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Increased Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa?

    Im Frühjahr 2020 wurde davor gewarnt, dass COVID-19 die Gewalt in den afrikanischen Ländern südlich der Sahara durch einen wirtschaftlichen Schock erhöhen würde, der zu Verteilungskonflikten und staatlicher Repression führen könnte – und die Gewalt nahm im Jahr 2020 tatsächlich zu. Eine Analyse von Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau und Mora Deitch.


    Covid-19 and Governance in Africa: Familiar Problems Amplified?

    Konferenz 10.08.2021

    Comment at Cadenabbia, Italy, 2nd Annual Gathering
    of European Think Tanks and Academic Institutions with a Focus on Africa, organized by Konrad Adenauer Foundation


    Eine Pandemie der Gewalt? Covid-19 und die Zunahme bewaffneter Konflikte im subsaharischen Afrika

    Universität der Bundeswehr München München: 28.06.2021

    Vortrag an der Universität der Streitkräfte in München


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