Ted Miguel and Ray Fisman claim that in Africa an income drop of 5% increases the risk of civil conflict in the following year to nearly 30% and suggests that aid agencies could help prevent war by targeting short-term emergency aid towards countries hard-hit by adverse commodity price movements or weather shocks. This is in keeping with their claim in their recently released book "Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence and the Poverty of Nations" that poverty (or more exactly decline in incomes and slide into greaetr deprivation and poverty) creates conditions attractive for civil strife and violence.
They write, "Drought and the resulting economic hardship turn out to matter a lot for understanding conflict in Africa. In work with co-authors Shanker Satyanath and Ernest Sergenti of NYU, we find that a 1% decline in national GDP increases the likelihood of civil conflict by about 2 percentage points. So an income drop of 5%—a large but altogether common deterioration in economic conditions, especially when the rains fail—increases the risk of civil conflict in the following year to nearly 30%, up from an already-high average probability of conflict in Africa of around 20% in normal rainfall years.
Anjali Bohlken and Sergenti also use rainfall shocks to show that communal riots erupt in India in the aftermath of economic downturns. Using coffee price movements as an economic shock to coffee-growing regions in Colombia, economists Oeindrila Dube and Juan Vargas report analogous findings: when farmers’ incomes collapse along with global coffee prices, local flare-ups in that country’s civil war follow. And in a related study in a sample of African countries, Antonio Ciccone and Markus Bruckner of Pompeu Fabra find that sudden export commodity price drops also make armed conflict more likely, especially in Africa’s less democratic countries."
Their prescription - rapid conflict prevention support - where "organisations like the World Bank and IMF would target short-term emergency aid towards countries hard-hit by adverse commodity price movements or weather shocks like drought, and would do so before famine or war break out. These emergency funds would be scaled back when prices stabilised or the rains returned."