Conflict and hunger: The lived experience of conflict and food insecurity in South Sudan
This report (PDF) by Concern Worldwide seeks to understand how conflict affects individuals, groups and communities, the different mechanisms by which conflict affects food security and what opportunities remain for mitigating the impact of conflict on hunger. The study documents conflict’s devastating impact on food security in areas both acutely and less directly affected by violence. In some cases, it leads to near-total dependence on food aid. Restrictions on humanitarian access are deadly weapons of war. Conflict profoundly affects communities through localised violence, economic crisis and as a force multiplier in contexts of natural disasters and climate change. Conflicts impact on food security are unequally distributed within households and communities. Gendered dimensions are particularly stark. Women are primarily responsible for food collection and preparation, putting themselves at risk when searching for food. They are also more likely to deny themselves and suffer from (violent) power imbalances within households. The study outlines ways in which conflict severely disrupts traditional coping mechanisms and mutual support systems. Depleted household assets and competition for scarce resources can diminish cooperation, mutual solidarity and systems of reciprocity. Five recommendations are given: 1) Humanitarian and development actors must work in a conflict-sensitive way to support peace at different levels and deliver effective, accountable quality programming. 2) Humanitarian and development actors should implement programmes that are highly attuned to the ways that gender and social relations shape conflict’s impacts on food security. 3) Actors should support community-owned resilience-building activities that tackle the combined impacts of conflict, climate change and natural disasters on food insecurity. 4) Donors should provide sufficient, rapidly dispersible and flexible funding to support conflict-sensitive, multi-year, integrated responses to conflict and hunger. 5) All parties to conflict must abide by, monitor and continue to advocate for compliance with, international humanitarian law, including law concerning the use of food as a weapon of war.