March 19th, 2019

Food resources and strategic conflict

Published by Journal of Conflict Resolution ,

This study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution aims to develop an explanation for how the competition over food resources conditions the strategic behaviors of three actors: rebels, civilian producers who grow crops, and state forces. A growing number of studies draw linkages between violent conflict and food scarcities. Yet, evidence suggest that within states, conflict revolved around food resource abundance. Using a statistical-strategic model, the author validates its theory at the subnational level on new high specificity spatial data on staple crop access and productivity in Africa for the years 1998 to 2008 (and use the estimates to forecast conflict on out-of-sample data for 2009 to 2010). In line with theoretical expectations, local variations in food productivity have a positive, statistically significant, and substantive effect on the strategic behaviors of different actors. These findings suggest that the imperative for food denial as a microlevel tactic in civil war should be more seriously incorporated into the work of scholars and policy makers.

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