Spatial and temporal patterns of pastoralist violence in North and West Africa since 1997

Authors: Matthew Pflaum*, University of Florida
Topics: Africa, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Political Geography
Keywords: Sahel, North and West Africa, pastoralists, violence, conflict, spatial, temporal
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 25
Presentation File: Download



This study examines the spatial and temporary dynamics of pastoralist violence in 21 North and West African countries from 1997 through April of 2020. First, the study identifies 188 unique pastoralist groups among the 4,059 groups involved in violent events during the period. Then, it analyses their spatial patterns highlights whether violence tends to spread, possibly across borders, or remain isolated. This study also examines temporal trends by looking at shifts in pastoralist violence across the region. It finds that pastoralist violence is widespread in the region, present in all countries except three, has expanded and intensified in events and fatalities rapidly for the past decade, and involves numerous groups in addition to the two (Fulani and Tuareg) that are frequently mentioned in the scholarship and media. Further, armed groups with connections to pastoralists are increasing, particularly in emerging conflict zones like northern Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and central Mali. Fulani-associated groups constitute the greatest burden of violent events, groups, and fatalities, yet Fulani are also the most populous and most geographically disperse, and local factors likely account for their violence in the region rather than being a unified entity. Of the three major forms of violence, communal violence is the most significant form in terms of contributing to pastoralist violence, though extremism is gaining importance and spreading.

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