Food and nutrition insecurity is not only a consequence of conflict; it is also a main cause of civil conflict. Thus, policies and programs that improve food and nutrition security are also likely to reduce civil conflict.
Building resilience through food security policies and programs (ecker), 17 10-14
1. Building Resilience throughFood Security Policies and Programs
Research Fellow, IFPRI
CFS Side Event
“Building Resilience to Crises in the Arab World”, 17 October 2014
Committee on World Food Security (CFS), FAO, Rome, 13 -18 October 2014
With financial support from IFAD and CGIAR PIM
2. Resilience & Food and Nutrition Security
“Building resilience means helping people, communities, countries, and global institutions prevent, anticipate, prepare for, cope with, and recover from shocksand not only bounce backto where they were before the shocks occurred, but become even better-off.” (IFPRI 2020 Conference, 2014)
Types of shocks (and stresses):
Social and political: conflict(and displacement), violence
Economic: food price shocks/volatility, financial crises
Environmental: climate change, erratic weather patterns, natural disasters
Food and nutrition security (FNS) is—in itself—a critical element of individual resilience, but it can also enhance the resilience of whole economies by enhancing the health and productivity of individuals.
Source: Fan et al. (eds.) (forthcoming). “Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security.” IFPRI 2020 Book.
3. Civil Conflict & Food Insecurity
Food insecurity isnot only a consequencebut is also a main causeof civil conflict:1
War and civil unrest reduce household incomes and employment opportunities through economic recession; cause losses in people’s purchasing power from price inflation; and restrict food availability, access, and utilization through disruption of infrastructure.2
Low per capita income and poverty, youth unemployment, and social and economic inequality—often combined with poor governance, population pressure, and rough terrain—are factors causing/fueling civil conflict.3
Recently, food (and nutrition) insecurity has been identified as another main driver of civil conflict globally, and even more so in Arab countries.3,4
Recent events (incl. food price riots in 2007-08, “Arab Awakening” uprisings in 2010-11) seem to confirm the role of food insecurity as a catalyst of political instability and civil conflict.3
1 Breisingeret al. (2014). “How to build resilience to conflict.” IFPRI FPR 28.
2World Bank (2011). “Conflict, security, and development.” WDR.
3See references in: Ecker. “Resilience for Food Security in the Face of Civil Conflict in Yemen.” In: Fan et al. (eds.) (forthcoming). “Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security.” IFPRI 2020 Book.
4Maystadt et al. (2014). “Does food security matter for transition in Arab countries?” Food Policy 46.
4. Food and Nutrition Insecurity & Civil Conflict
Global Hunger Index, 2014
Source: IFPRI et al. (2014). “Global Hunger Index: The Challenge of Hidden
Significant cross-country correlation between the Global Hunger Index and
violent civil conflict events (0.30) and conflict fatalities (0.37) in Africa.
Density of violent civil conflicts, 2000-14
Source: Own representation based on data from ACLED (accessed Sept. 2014).
Note: Latest observation: Sept. 20, 2014.
5. Chronic Child Undernutrition& Civil Conflict
Source: Own estimation based on data from WHO GHO data repository and UCDP datasets (accessed Sept. 2014).
Note: A country is classified as a ‘conflict country’ if it has an average of more than 100 battle deaths or fatalities in non-state or violent clashes over a period of three consecutive years. The beginning of the past two decades spans the period 1994-1996, and the end of the past two decades, the period 2011-2013.
Globally, child stunting has been more prevalent in conflict-affected countries than in countries without major civil conflict.
Countries that were or became free of major conflict over the past two decades experienced faster decreases in the prevalence of child stunting than countries that entered conflict and countries in lasting conflict.
Countries with no major conflicts
Countries in conflict at beginning of the past two decades
Countries in conflict at end of the past two decades
Countries in conflict at beginning and end of the past two decades
Prevalence of child stunting (percentage of children aged less than 5 years):
6. Evidence from 4 Country Case Studies
1. Sudan: Climate change, natural resources, and local conflicts
2. Somalia: Drought, livestock price shocks, and civil war
3. Yemen: Building resilience through rural development programs
4. Egypt: Food subsidies in times of political transition
… supported by IFAD and CGIAR PIM.
7. Findings & Implications (1)
Civil conflict often occurs together with or even as a consequence of other economic, social, environmental, and health shocks. Mitigating the impacts of these shocks contributes to building resilience to civil conflict.
Food and nutrition insecurity is not only a consequence of conflict; it is also a main cause of civil conflict. Thus, policies and programs that improve FNS are also likely to reduce civil conflict.
Climate change adaptation should be an integral part of civil conflict prevention in part because climate change is expected to significantly increase the likelihood of civil conflict in the future:
Sudan: 24-32% by 2030 (under a median climate change scenario), driven by increasing competition over natural resources (particularly water)
Somalia: 51-54% by 2030 (under a median climate change scenario), driven by increasing cattle price shocks
Pastoral livelihoods are particularly vulnerable to civil conflict and other shocks to food and nutrition insecurity.
8. Findings & Implications (2)
Because people’s motivation to participate in civil conflict is often driven by economic means, resilience-building policies and programs should focus on increasing theopportunity costs of conflict participation(through e.g. employment and income generation, social safety nets, human capital formation).
Policymakers should refrain from increasing subsidies—a favorite policy measure in times of crises—because they are ineffective in building resilience and often have critical side effects (e.g. in Egypt, growing double burden of malnutrition driven by high food subsidies).
Effective price information and disaster early warning systems and functioning credit and insurance markets can help people to better adapt to a world of more frequent and severe shocks.
Programs and projects that adopt a participatory, demand-driven approach and support social inclusion and cohesion (e.g. IFAD’s projects in Dhamarand Al-Dahle, Yemen) tend to be more successful in building resilience for FNS and conflict prevention, because it may contribute to alleviatinggrievancesin the project areas.