Resources, Population and Conflicts: Two Africa Case Studies

  • Cyril I Obi


This article critically analyses the complex linkages between population, resource insecurity and conflict. It argues that rapid population growth beyond the limits of the `carrying capacity' of the eco-system and resource scarcities cannot alone be the cause of conflict. Rather, issues of distribution of resources, power, and the linkage between the modes of production and the contradictions embedded in social relations are the fundamental causes of the conflict. Using two cases: that of the conflict of the Ogoni and Shell, and the ecological dimensions of the Sudanese civil war, it is shown that the state in Africa is not just another mediator of conflict, but is an actor in the conflict, repressing its own citizens, alienating them, and blocking their access to resources, at the behest of global capitalist interests and those of local elites. Thus, conflicts over the control of resources – power – tend to be defined by access to the means of violence, state power, and the survival of the people.

Africa Development 1999, Vol. XXIV, Nos 3 & 4, 47-70

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eISSN: 0850-3907