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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Climate change, conflict and governance in the Sahel

Bringing together a unique, multidisciplinary team with a combined 60 years of field experience, this project examines how climate change shapes violent conflict. The research explores the question at a fine-grained level, using unique micro-level data, in a crucial world region: the Sahel. Once a beacon of stability and democracy, this West African region today is engulfed in one of the most complex conflicts globally and is thus one of the most important for exploring links between impoverishment, insurgency, jihadism and climate change.

The project team will explore a novel theoretical approach that incorporates inequality and governance into models linking environmental change and conflict. The project draws on new quantitative household and precipitation data as well as original qualitative field research probing grievances and governance at a local level. The research aims to transform existing research and provide a theoretical framework that can be applied to other zones affected by climate change.


Matt Turner, professor of geography


Jeremy Foltz, professor of applied and agricultural economics

Scott Straus, professor of political science