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

  • Research Questions

    * 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?

    Contribution to International Research

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

    Research Design and Methods

    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.

    Preliminary Findings

    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 Focus Africa | 1/2023

    Ten Things to Watch in Africa in 2023

    Russia’s war against Ukraine has accelerated international competition for influence in Africa. Structural weaknesses and post-pandemic instabilities continue to threaten democratic governance, peace, and development. We present a selective list and analysis of “ten things to watch” in Africa in 2023.

    GIGA Focus Global | 3/2022

    COVID-19 and Violent Actors in the Global South: A Complex Relationship

    A cross-regional comparative analysis of the effects of COVID-19 on violence shows high levels of variation between contexts and in terms of specific armed actors. While Latin America along with the Middle East and North Africa have experienced an overall reduction, violence in sub-Saharan Africa has increased.

    Journal of Conflict Resolution | 06/2022

    Rebels with a Cause: Does Ideoloy make Armed Conflicts Longer and bloodier?

    Ideology may directly provide motive and indirectly capacity for collective violence, thus making armed conflicts longer and bloodier. The authors investigate these propositions by drawing on an innovative global dataset which codes ideological claims by rebel groups and governments in intrastate armed conflicts since 1946.

    Ass. Prof. Dr. Ariel Zellman

    GIGA Working Papers | 09/2021

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

    In the spring of 2020, observers and practitioners warned that COVID-19 would increase violence in sub-Saharan Africa through an economic shock that would lead to distributional conflict and state repression – and violence did indeed increase in 2020. An analysis by Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau and Mora Deitch.

    Eine Pandemie der Gewalt? Covid-19 und die Zunahme bewaffneter Konflikte im subsaharischen Afrika
    Covid-19 and Governance in Africa: Familiar Problems Amplified?

    Conference | 09/08/2021 - 12/08/2021

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

    Africa after Covid-19: Lessons and Outlook for Development Cooperation with Africa, Cadenabbia Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau (Speaker)

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


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