Borders and Conflicts in North and West Africa

image of Borders and Conflicts in North and West Africa

This publication examines the role of border regions in shaping patterns of violence since the end of the 1990s in North and West Africa. Using the innovative OECD Spatial Conflict Dynamics indicator (SCDi), the report looks at the growing relationship between political violence and borderlands at the regional level, by analysing more than 170 000 violent events between January 1997 and June 2021 and through the exploration of case studies in the Central and Eastern Sahel. Violence in border regions is both more intense in terms of the number of victims and more diffuse geographically than ever before. This report combines quantitative data on the location of violent events and victims, their mapping over time and space, and an analysis of the actors in conflict to answer three crucial questions i) Are borderlands more violent than other spaces? ii) Has the intensity of violence in border regions increased over time? iii) Are some borderlands more violent than others? The growing importance and complexity of transnational conflicts and transnational violent groups in North and West Africa calls for a more place-based analysis in order to create better tailored and more flexible policy options.

English Also available in: French

Mapping border conflicts in North and West Africa

Chapter 3 develops several tools to examine whether borderlands are more violent than other regions, how the intensity of violence has changed over time in such regions, and which borderlands are the most violent in North and West Africa. The spatial and temporal relationships between political violence and borderlands are studied using two complementary approaches to define borderlands: one based on a series of buffer zones extending along all of the land boundaries of the region, and the other based on the distance travelled by local means of transportation from any border crossing of the region. A Spatial Conflict Dynamics indicator (SCDi) developed by the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) is used to identify major clusters of violent activities. This indicator is complemented with a qualitative analysis of violent extremist organisations operating in border regions.

English Also available in: French

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