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Violent deaths linked to price rises will increase

Published: 23 October 2019 at 16:00

The 'Chaos Map' which shows deaths in areas of conflict due to food, water and fuel insecurity

Chaos Map shows the devastating effects of food, water and fuel insecurity

The number of deaths due to conflict and rioting caused by food, water and fuel is likely to soar in the next decade, according to the authors of a new interactive tool that maps fatalities linked to price rises and resource shortages. 

The Chaos Map, produced by Dr Davide Natalini and Professor Aled Jones of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), shows that over 1,300 deaths between 2005-2017 have been the result of violent unrest directly attributable to either food, water or fuel insecurity.

By scanning reports covering food, water, and fuel insecurity shocks published since 2005, the authors have plotted data for violent deaths – including riots, looting, armed conflict and demonstrations – and suicides on the Chaos Map.

This research is important to help understand the escalating instability and chaos that can occur when pressures caused by limited resources are compounded by factors such as climate change and rising populations.

By examining trends around past events, the Chaos Map can also help to predict and inform early responses to resource insecurity and social unrest, which could prove useful for governments and NGOs. For example, the deaths over the last few months linked to rising fuel prices in Ecuador follow previous, similar patterns where austerity measures imposed on the government takes precedent over medium term planning for access to food and fuel across poor populations.

Professor Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:


“As climate change increases the severity of extreme weather over the coming years and we see continuing political instability in key oil producing regions, there is likely to be an increased frequency and severity of physical shocks to our food, fuel and water supplies. 

“Without proper strategies to combat these shocks it is likely that reactive policies from governments will only make the impacts of these shocks worse, leading to bigger chaos events and more deaths. 

“In Europe, while we have already seen a limited number of deaths, without a full and transparent conversation between governments and its citizens around the need to move away from fossil fuels and more investment into resilient food and water systems, it is likely that we will not be immune to these events. 

“It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes protests about rising fuel or food costs to turn violent, and this is where the risks lie. We hope the Chaos Map can build our understanding of these tipping points in society so we can hopefully avoid the worst impacts in the future.”


The Chaos Map can be accessed at aru.ac.uk/chaosmap and further information about the work of ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute is available at aru.ac.uk/global-sustainability-institute-gsi