What Our Analysts Are Reading – June, 2022

Navanti’s data collection and analysis are based on networks of on-the-ground researchers from all walks of life: journalists, academics, and humanitarian workers, to name a few. Our analysts also keep abreast of open source reports to inform their work. Below, these analysts have summarized and contextualized the most important pieces they have read and listened to over the past month.

Burkina Faso

The New Humanitarian article titled “In post-coup Burkina Faso, jihadist attacks grow fiercer despite junta pledge” summarizes the growing threat of jihadist violence, linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State, across Burkina Faso. In January 2022, a military coup overthrew the democratically elected president, promising to improve security conditions in the country against jihadist violence. To tackle the violence, the junta reshuffled the army command, requested civilians evacuate large swathes of territory in “military interest zones” to conduct planned operations, and promoted community dialogue with jihadists to encourage them to lay down their arms. Despite these efforts, violence has only increased in the several months since the junta took power, weakening public confidence in the new regime. Since January, at least 160,000 people have been displaced and over 530 security-related incidents have occurred, according to ACLED data. Jihadists are adopting new tactics to take over territory and are spreading into new regions of the country and into neighboring Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Togo. Hunger levels have risen to a new high since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, with around 3.5 million of the country’s 21 million facing food insecurity, a 20 percent increase from 2021, according to the United Nations. Due to the increasing insecurity, particularly along roadways in rural areas, humanitarian aid groups are struggling to access areas where people are most in need; many of those areas are now only accessible by helicopter. Furthermore, humanitarian efforts have been hindered by a funding gap: only around 15 percent of the $590 million requested by the UN has come through so far this year, affecting aid missions across the globe. According to a 2021 report by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Burkina Faso is ranked the world’s second-most neglected displacement crisis.


A study titled “Migration and Development: Examining the migration development nexus in Kayes Region, Mali,” examines the impact of policy initiatives and development projects implemented by Western governing bodies in order to limit migration from Africa to Europe. The authors conducted 586 quantitative interviews and 60 qualitative interviews to determine to what extent migration aspirations among Malian residents and migrants in Kayes, Bamako, and Gao are influenced by this assistance. The authors found that having received assistance played a role in civilians’ migration decisions in 7 out of 10 models in which it was included as an independent variable; however, they also found that migration and subsequent influxes of remittances have been crucial to local socioeconomic development, particularly in Kayes region. Additionally, the majority of surveyed respondents reported that they did not received assistance from these development initiatives, indicating that that the role of outside development initiatives is limited compared to the impact of long-distance migration. The authors therefore stressed the importance of considering the nuances of the situation and cautioned against placing too much confidence in plans to address the “root causes” of migration.


Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first foreign visit since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, traveling to Dushanbe on 28 JUN 22. The choice of Tajikistan as the first international destination for Putin in the post-invasion world raised many eyebrows among Central Asia observers, as did the numerous one-on-one meetings between Putin and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. While pre-trip statements from the Kremlin indicated Putin and Rahmon would discuss the “strategic alliance between Moscow and Dushanbe,” the situation in Afghanistan, and yet another pitch for Tajikistan to join the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union, such reasons seem hardly worth an in-person visit. Some have speculated that Putin’s visit was aimed at discussions to help Rahmon quell his internal strife (in line with Putin’s long-standing policy of stability on all Russia’s flanks), ways Tajikistan and Russia can cooperate to skirt Western sanctions, and even Rahmon’s convoluted succession plans.

There is also the possibility that Putin’s visit served as a subliminal message to China and other suitors of Tajikistan, with the Kremlin seeking to counter China, Iran, and even the West’s growing influence in what Moscow perceives as its ‘backyard.’ As Russia’s economy, historically the lifeblood of the Tajik remittances that keep much of the country afloat, sputters due to sanctions, Tajikistan has further ramped up its quest for new trading partners. Additionally, Chinese investment continues to lead all FDI in the Tajikistan and Beijing poses the biggest threat to upending Russian economic and political influence in Dushanbe.

In addition to its role in the global food crisis, Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine has further destabilized water supplies in Ukraine, particularly in locations in the Donbas like Mariupol and Sloviansk. While access to water was already an issue prior to the large-scale invasion, the intensified fighting has exacerbated the problem. A Bellingcat report uses footage and imagery to examine how the war has further jeopardized the region’s access to clean water as facilities are damaged in the war, ending with a grim note that the possibilities of repairs are hindered by cut power lines and mines.


The Al Shabaab insurgency in Somalia has been operating for well over a decade, and shows no signs of being permanently defeated. The group is embedded in Somali society, and despite contributions and support from the African Union and foreign countries, including the US, there does not seem to be a military solution to the conflict. The article titled “Considering Political Engagement with Al-Shabaab in Somalia,” argues that Somalia’s new government should shift its counterinsurgency strategy, from one based on military means, to one focused on confidence-building and negotiations.


In a June 2022 infographic, the World Food Program (WFP) predicts localized pockets of residents could experience famine-like conditions by the end of 2022 in parts of Aden, Ad Dali, Al Mahwit, Sana’a City, Al Hudaydah, Sana’a, Raymah, Al Jawf, Hajjah, and Amran governorates,  after WFP was forced to cut humanitarian food assistance rations for the second time this year. Around 8 million households received further reduced assistance cut to one-third, while the 5 million households who previously received full rations now have their monthly rations cut in half.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross explored how Yemen’s ancestral beekeeping practices that have survived for over 3,000 years are under threat not only from conflict lines and unexploded ordinance, but also climate change. The over 100,000 households depending on beekeeping as their sole livelihood source are increasingly affected as the bees’ habitat to forage for pollen shrinks due to decreased rainfall.