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The Climate-Food-Urbanization Nexus and the Precursors of Instability

PI: Kathy Baylis, University of California, Santa Barbara

Year selected for award: 2022

The Climate-Food-Urbanization Nexus and the Precursors of Instability in Africa Project Summary

Principal Investigator: Kathy Baylis, University of California, Santa Barbara

Co-Investigators: Kelly Caylor (UCSB), Lyndon Estes (Clark), Tom Evans (Arizona), Megan Konar (Illinois) and Cascade Tuholske (Montana State)

Years of Award: 2023-2026        

Managing Service Agency: Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Project Description:
Problem Statement: Climate change is already disrupting economic security and livelihoods, increasing societal instability and threatening global and national security. Nowhere is this more true than in SubSaharan Africa. However, predicting the socioeconomic impacts of climate change – and their potential for instability – is exceedingly complex. Climate change impacts come on top of rapid urbanization, economic growth, and transformation of the continents’ agricultural systems. Large investments in infrastructure and farming are changing rural labor markets and supply chains, altering the food system. In parallel, urbanization is altering both rural and urban labor opportunities, particularly among young people. These demographic change processes fundamentally link to food systems. While these shifts are correlated with economic growth, that growth has been highly unequal, and critical outcomes like food insecurity are on the rise. Whether these changes have made agricultural and urban systems more vulnerable to climate change is a critical question. Predicting how this complex set of dynamics influences conflict and identifying potential points of intervention requires a detailed understanding of the climate-food urbanization (CFU) nexus.