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  • Sowing the seeds of peace for food securityDisentangling the nexus between conflict, food security and peace




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  • Edited by

    Cindy HollemanSenior Economist, Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA), FAO

    Julius JacksonTechnical Officer (Protracted Crises), Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA), FAO

    Marco V. SnchezDeputy Director, Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA), FAO

    Rob VosDirector, Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division (MTID), IFPRI Former Director of the Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA), FAO

    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

    Rome, 2017

    Sowing the seeds of peace for food securityDisentangling the nexus between conflict, food security and peace


  • Citation: Holleman, C., Jackson, J., Snchez, M.V. and Vos, R. 2017. Sowing the seeds of peace for food security - Disentangling the nexus between conflict, food security and peace, FAO Agricultural Development Economics Technical Study 2. Rome, FAO. 95 pp.

    The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

    The views expressed in this information product are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of FAO.

    ISBN 978-92-5-109933-9

    FAO, 2017

    FAO encourages the use, reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product. Except where otherwise indicated, material may be copied, downloaded and printed for private study, research and teaching purposes, or for use in non-commercial products or services, provided that appropriate acknowledgement of FAO as the source and copyright holder is given and that FAOs endorsement of users views, products or services is not implied in any way.

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    FAO information products are available on the FAO website ( and can be purchased through

    This publication has been printed using selected products and processes so as to ensure minimal environmental impact and to promote sustainable forest management.

    Cover photo: FlcikrCC/Spc De'Yonte Mosley

  • iii

    ContentsPreface v

    Acknowledgements vii

    Acronyms viii

    Executive summary x

    1 Introduction 1

    2 The landscape of conflict is changing: does it matter for food security? 5

    2.1 The changing nature of conflict 52.2 Correlations between conflict and food security and nutrition 14

    3 The myriad ways in which conflict affects food security and nutrition 27

    3.1 Impacts on economic production, trade and public finances 283.2 Impacts on agriculture, food systems and rural livelihoods 323.3 Resilience and coping strategies 38

    4 Food insecurity and undernutrition as triggers of conflict 43

    4.1 Food insecurity and violent behaviour 444.2 Food price spikes 454.3 Climate change and extreme weather events 484.4 Competition for and dispossession of natural resources 50

    5 Reaping peace dividends from improved food security and nutrition 54

    5.1 Harvesting peace from improved food security 555.2 Strengthening resilience to conflict in order to sustain peace 565.3 Official development assistance in support of food security and sustaining peace 695.4 Recommendations for improving contributions to sustaining peace 74

    References 79

    Annex 91

  • iv


    Figure 1 Number of undernourished people in the world 2

    Figure 2 Total number of conflicts by type, 19892015 7

    Figure 3 Total number of state-based conflicts, 19892015 10

    Figure 4 Prevalence and number of undernourished people in low- and middle-income countries with and without conflict, 2016 15

    Figure 5 Prevalence and number of stunted children in low- and middle-income countries with and without conflict, 2016 16

    Figure 6 Prevalence of undernourishment in countries affected by conflict, for all countries and for countries in protracted crisis or in the Harmonized List of Fragile Situations, 19962016 20

    Figure 7a Prevalence of undernourishment and fragility in low- and middle-income countries affected and not affected by conflict, 2016 21

    Figure 7b Prevalence of stunting and fragility in low- and middle-income countries affected and not affected by conflict, 2016 21

    Figure 8 Prevalence of undernourishment over time in countries affected by conflict considering duration of conflict, 19902014 23

    Figure 9 Length of peace spells versus the average level of dietary energy supply 24

    Figure 10 Prevalence of undernourishment and number of battle-related deaths and fatalities in 46 countries affected by conflict, 20002015 (average) 25

    Figure 11 Population displacement caused by conflict in the countries that experienced global food crises in 2016 37

    Figure 12 Time-dependence of FAO Food Price Index from January 2004 to May 2011 47

    Figure 13 Length of drought and likelihood of conflict 49

    Figure 14 Requirements and funding levels in UN appeals by sector, in countries in protracted crisis in 2006, 2011 and 2016 71

    Figure 15 IDPs assisted by WFP in Northern Uganda 72


    Table 1 Countries in protracted crisis by conflict type, duration, intensity, fragility, and frequency of natural disasters 13

    Table A.1 Countries in protracted crisis and countries and territories affected by conflict 93

    Table A.2 Low- and middle-income countries and territories affected by conflict 94

  • v


    Conflicts tend to have strongly adverse effects on hunger, nutrition and overall sustainable development. Notably, a majority of the worlds hungry live in contexts where there is no peace. Conflicts reduce food availability, disrupt access to food, and undermine non-formal as well as established social protection systems. Most conflict events strike hardest in rural areas, with sharply negative consequences for agricultural production, rural livelihoods, and survival in general. Conflicts and violence cause vulnerable people and at-risk communities to lose access to the range of resources necessary for food and agriculture production.

    At the same time, people may resort to violence when their human security including food security is threatened. Conflict may arise due to a loss of assets (including access to resources), threats to livelihoods, and/or other forms of economic and political marginalization. Food insecurity may be only one cause of conflict, and may become a channel through which wider socio-economic and political grievances are expressed.

    The implications of conflict-induced food insecurity are no longer limited to specific countries or regions; they now have global impacts. In 2016, over 64 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced, with the majority of these experiencing protracted displacement. The direct effects of conflict are increasingly echoed across the broader global landscape, as people are forced to migrate across and within countries, regions and continents in a bid to escape the consequences of conflict. There is a deepening awareness of how food insecurity in one part of the world can influence social services, political systems and national security elsewhere.

    The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes an explicit link between sustainable development and peace, and calls for more collaborative approaches to conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution and recovery. The 2030 Agenda recognizes peace as a vital condition for development as well as a development outcome in its own right. In April 2016, the General Assembly and Security Council adopted substantively identical resolutions (A/RES/70/262 and S/RES/2282), concluding the 2015 review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture covering peace operations, peacebuilding, and the implementation of Resolution 1325. These comprehensive and far-reaching resolutions outline an ambitious new approach to addressing the root causes of conflict, with sustaining peace as a unifying framework, and encompassing activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict.

    In times of both conflict and stability, FAO can contribute to protecting, restoring and improving the livelihoods of farmers, fishers, herders, foresters, and others who depend upon agriculture and natural resources for sustenance, security and prosperity. The Organizations efforts to both save lives and develop long-term resilience are important contributions to peace and stability within countries, across regions and beyond.

    Clearly, there are strong links between conflict, food insecurity and peace. Yet the precise underlying causes and channels that determ