Fertile Ground: Climate Change and Jihadism in Mali

9 May 2017 | Colin Walch


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Herders, farmers, and fishermen have cohabited the middle region of Mali, known as the Macina, for centuries. Conflicts were generally peacefully managed by local chiefs in charge of land and water. Yet these traditional institutions have lost much of their legitimacy and efficiency over the years, even as climate change and weather unpredictability have reduced the amount of water and grazing lands available to farmers and herders. The decline in these customary institutions has been partially due to the state using them to favor some groups over others. But the appearance of Islamist armed groups over the last two years in the Macina has made things much worse. Jihadist groups have been effective at exploiting existing grievances between different ethnic groups, recruiting local residents, inflaming tensions, and supplying weapons.


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