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Until the Well is Dry:

Author(s): A Statistical Evaluation of Droughts and International Conflict and Cooperation
Congress: 2008
Author(s):

Keyword(s): drought, conflict, cooperation, violence, military, global, political, treaties
AbstractSome research shows drought will lead to violent conflict; others expect "hydro-cooperation" as water resources dwindle. In an effort to address these competing claims, I examine the likelihoods of conflict and cooperation resulting from below- and above-average soil moisture conditions for international riparians in the post-WWII era. I propose causal mechanisms that may account for the observed statistical results and find that under some conditions, water stress may lead to military conflict, while under others, shared water stress may lead to enhanced cooperation and resource management. I use historic drought data, conflict and cooperation events data, and treaty events from the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database in a set of well-specified statistical models. I find the conditions under which drought is correlated with worse relations between riparians or outright military conflict, and under which conditions drought may lead to better relations or better water management. Shared drought is correlated with more cooperation and a higher likelihood of a water treaty, along with a general decline in military conflict. Drought in one country of a riparian pair is associated with a decline in relations, while individually high water availability may create 'permissive' conditions for an increased likelihood of violent conflict. In all models, other covariates are included to account for the generally accepted effects of trade, government type, population, economic activity, and development.
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