Food security policy and governance

Food security and stability

How can Food and Nutrition Security programming “do good” in fragile settings?
Image: Abel Kavanagh

After years of increasing global food security world hunger is rising again. This rise is concentrated mainly in countries affected by conflict and fragility where violent conflict can destroy crops, assets and displace people. As a result of prolonged instability borders can be closed, (safe) access to markets can be limited, and farm inputs can become scarcely available. To deal with such a precarious environment farmers and actors along the food chain employ various coping mechanisms that are at best detrimental to food availability, and at worst can contribute to further instability. Conversely through the importance of agriculture in the economies of these countries the development of the sector can contribute to an enabling environment for increased stability. Especially the promotion of resilience of (rural) food systems can serve to increase household and community food security in the face of instability. In this topic we look at the relation between food security and stability, especially ways in which interventions on this nexus can achieve more resilient food systems, contribute to stability and can bridge humanitarian and development programming.

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Impact of COVID-19 on smallholder farmers, producer organizations and MFIs in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal
Published by ICCO Cooperation,
This insight brief draws together findings resulting from a study investigating the diverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on smallholder farmers and microfinance institutions (MFIs). »
Protracted crisis, food security and the fantasy of resilience in Sudan
Published by Security Dialogue journal ,
This article uses examples from Sudan to examine how and why the resilience ‘regime of practices’ has functioned as a form of neoliberal governmentality, and argues that it has created a fantasy in which conflict in Darfur is invisible. Social and political analysts, however, have criticized resilience approaches for failing to consider power relations. »
Dealing with Covid-19 in rural Africa: Lessons from previous crises
Published by ODI,
This brief summarises insights from a  study which examines the lessons that can be drawn from previous crises to inform responses to Covid-19 in rural Africa. How Covid-19 and responses to it will unfold in rural Africa is uncertain, but recovery from previous crises has often been quick and strong, even when the measures taken have been quite modest.  »
Food transfers, electronic food vouchers and child nutritional status among Rohingya children living in Bangladesh
Published by Plos One,
This article examines assocations between receipt of an electronic food voucher (e-voucher) compared to food rations on the nutritional status of Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Household receipt of an electronic food voucher instead of a food ration is associated with improvements in the linear growth of children. »
Food as a weapon? The geopolitics of food and the Qatar–Gulf rift
Published by Security Dialogue,
This article puts the concept of 'food as a weapon' in historical and regional perspective in the Arabian Peninsula through the lens of critical geopolitics, tracing the securitizing discourses about food security and their intertwining with narratives about territorial sovereignty, nationalism, and essentialist understandings of geography to explain the causes and effects of the food embargo in the ongoing Qatar–Gulf rift. »
Drought, resilience, and support for violence: Household survey evidence from DR Congo
Published by Journal of Conflict Resolution,
This study examined the variation in the support for violence related to reported exposure to drought and resilience metrics, using household survey data from two conflict-affected regions in DR Congo. »
Ebola in Liberia: Impact on food security and livelihoods
Published by Action Against Hunger,
This publication examines the effects of Ebola on livelihoods and food security in Liberia and provides recommendations for future crises. Ebola aversion measures (quarantine, road blocks, and curfew) have had the most significant impact on livelihoods and food security. »
Global report on food crises 2020
Published by Global Network Against Food Crises, Food Security Information Network,
The 2020 global report on food crises tracks people most in need of emergency food, nutrition and livelihood assistance, identifies main drivers of actute food insecurity and malnutrition. Conflict/insecurity was still the main driver of food crises in 2019, but weather extremes and economic shocks became increasingly significant. »
Effects of violent political conflict on the supply, demand and fragmentation of fresh food markets
Published by Food Security journal,
This study analysed consequences of conflict on economic and physical access to food, as this is one of the core aspects often being reported to be impeded in during conflict escalations causing transitory food insecurity. The findings suggest that it is access to food in the given case that is more severely impeded by conflict than availability. »
Food security and conflict: Empirical challenges and future opportunities for research and policy making on food security and conflict
Published by World Development Journal,
This article examines the endogeneity that characterizes the coupling between food (in)security and conflict. While the policy community has pushed forward with new programs, the academic debate about the causal linkages between food security and conflict remains contested. For policy makers, closing data gaps will be essential for producing effective food security and peacebuilding policies. »
Promoting effective resilience investments: Delivering peace, agriculture-led growth and socio-economic transformation in the Horn of Africa
Published by FAO & IGAD,
This booklet is a compilation of documentation on good practices on resilience at regional level, further to the implementation of the six pillars of IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) in the IGAD region: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. The lessons learnt as well as the challenges met during the implementation of IDDRSI Phase I (2013–2018) are discussed, with a view to informing the implementation of Phase II, endorsed in June 2018, as part of the efforts aimed at ending drought emergencies in the region. »
The hunger games: Food prices, ethnic cleavages and nonviolent unrest in Africa
Published by Journal of Peace Research ,
This article argues that nonviolent mobilization is made possible in ethnically polarized contexts when broader cross-cutting grievances are present as they enable local activists to widen their appeal across social lines. The focus is on food price spikes as an example of a cross-cutting issue that is likely to affect consumers from different ethnic groups. »
Rebuilding pastoralist livelihoods during and after conflict
Published by IDS,
This review synthesises findings from discussions on approaches to support pastoral livelihoods during and after conflict. In order to be successful in unstable environments, development initiatives (including livelihoods support) should be both stabilisation-oriented (providing better access to physical and livelihood security for populations) and conflict-sensitive. Poorly designed pastoral development interventions that do not fully take the drivers of conflict and violence into account can create more instability and exacerbate conflicts. »
A step towards resilience: Pioneering market systems development in humanitarian response
Published by Mercy Corps,
This study had the goal to identify and increase market access and incomes for South Sudanese refugee and local community households who were interested in commercial agriculture in Uganda. Results showed changed behaviours among all market actors, which are positive indicators of early market system change. Further, the results revealed the significance of social captical and relationships in accessing goods and information. »
Cultivating stability: Agriculture systems, conflict & resilience
Published by Mercy Corps,
This publication aims to provide ways to ensure that agricultural systems continue to function throughout violent conflict, recover more quickly and minimize the risks of fueling further conflicts so that the people within the systems maintain food security and economic gains. The "freedom of movement" can be used as a proxy indicator to determine which intervention can apply. »
The nexus: Joining forces – peace-building, humanitarian assistance and development co-operation.
Published by Rural 21 ,
This issue focuses on the Humantitarian-Development-Peace nexus whereby solutions to instability should bridge the gap between humanitarian assistance and development co-operation, while supporting peace-building. One article is on the nexus policy approach that has resurfaced among global policy-makers seeking a convenient combination of humanitarian action, development and peace. The author gives an account of the different nexus approaches and trends over the last few decades and shows where their restrictions are. »
Global report on food crises 2019
Published by Food Security Information Network,
This report provides the latest estimates of severe hunger in the world caused by food crises. More than 113 million people accross 53 countries experiences acute hunger, of which two thirds live in only eight countries. The primary driver of food insecurity continued to be conflict and insecurity, thereafter follows climate shocks and natural disasters. »
Food resources and strategic conflict
Published by Journal of Conflict Resolution ,
This study 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. 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. »
Transforming pasotralist mobility in West Darfur: Understanding continuity and change
Published by Feinstein International Center of Tufts University,
This study examines how livestock keepers in Darfur Region of Sudan cope with and manage extreme climate variability, and potential insecurity and conflict, and how this coping differs according to systems of livestock production and mobility patterns. All livestock keepers identified insecurity as their predominant concern. Restricted patterns of mobility are a preventive response strategy to counter security risks. »
Farmer seed systems and sustaining peace
Published by FAO,
This discussion paper examines the role of farmers' seed systems in sustaining peace, with a focus on social cohesion as a pathway to positive local collective action. The paper reveals that certain characteristics of farmers’ seed systems do contribute to sustaining peace, highlighting the two-way interaction of peace-building and agricultural development. »
Food systems in protracted crises: Strengthening resilience against shocks and conflicts
Published by IDS,
This literature review provides an overview of the recent evidence on what food systems look like in protracted crises and the interventions mentioned in the literature to build more resilient food systems against shocks and conflicts. Interventions in food systems that increase food security and nutrition are important to reduce violence and conflict and to become more resilient to shocks. »
Conflict and hunger: The lived experience of conflict and food insecurity in South Sudan
Published by Concern Worldwide,
This report 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. »
Food security and conflict: Empirical challenges and future opportunitites for research and policy making on food security and conflict
Published by World Development Journal,
This article emphasizes the endogeneity that characterizes the coupling between food (in)security and violent conflict. While the policy community has pushed forward with new programs, the academic debate about the causal linkages between food security and conflict remains debated. Closing data gaps will be essential for producing effective food security and peacebuilding policies. »
Agriculture as an engine of economic reconstruction and development in fragile countries
Published by CTA,
This briefing focuses on agriculture as an engine of economic reconstruction and development in fragile countries.The role of agriculture and food has a particular resonance in fragile and conflict states. Smallholder farming can form the basis of peace-building. »
Markets in crises: The implications for humanitarian action
Published by Overseas Development Institute,
This report collates findings across three case studies on what actually happens to institutions around markets during and after crises, and explores how humanitarian policies and interventions can be used to maximize the potential of markets to support the household resilience of people living in situations of crises. »
Armed conflict and food security in West Africa: Socioeconomic perspective
Published by International Journal of Social Economics,
This paper examines the effect on increasing armed conflict on food security in Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries. The findings reveal that armed conflict is a significant predictor of food security in West Africa.  »
Conflict and hunger: Breaking a vicious cycle
Published by Swiss' and Netherlands missions to the UN,
This report presents the findings and recommendations from a series of seminars on the link between conflict and hunger. Preventing conflict, mitigating its negative impacts on food security and establishing sustainable, resilient and inclusive food systems requires a multi-disciplinary response. »
Food security and conflict: Empirical challenges and future opportunities for research and policy making on food security and conflict
Published by World Development Journal,
This article emphasizes the endogeneity that characterizes the coupling between food (in)security and violent conflict. Results reveal that causal and substantive links exist between food security and violent conflict, spanning the individual up to global levels. »
Food security, resilience and well-being analysis of refugees and host communities in northern Uganda
Published by FAO,
This report provides a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the refugees' food security, well-being and resilience in Northern Uganda. Although refugees in Uganda are given land and mobility rights, their food security remains low, with a high dependency of food aid. »
The effect of violent conflict on household resilience and food security: Evidence from the 2014 Gaza conflict
Published by World Development Journal,
This paper studies how conflict affects household resilience capacity and food security, drawing on panel data collected from households in Palestine before and after the 2014 Gaza conflict. Household resilience capacity that is necesssary to resist food insecurity declined as a result of conflict. »
The nexus between food and nutrition security, and migration: Clarifying the debate and charting a way forward
Published by ECDPM,
This discussion paper clarifies the characteristics of the nexus between food security and migration, frames the debate and provides recommendations for further work around agriculture and rural development (ARD) and migration interventions.  »
School feeding or general food distribution? Quasi-experimental evidence on the educational impacts of emergency food assistance during conflict in Mali
Published by UNICEF,
This report investigates the effects of emergency school feeding and general food distribution (GFD) on children’s schooling during conflict in Mali. School feeding led to increases in enrolment by 11 percentage points and to about an additional half-year of completed schooling. »
Agricultural production amid conflict: Separating the effects of conflict into shocks and uncertainty
Published by World Development Journal,
This paper examines the effect of conflict on agricultural production of small farmers and whether households respond differently to conflict shocks and uncertainty brought about the presence of non-state armed actors. Shocks may arise when either government or non-state armed actor is hegemonic in the region... »
The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security 2017
Published by FAO,
This report provides the latest data on the impact of disasters and crises on agriculture sectors. Standardizing disaster-related damage and loss assessments enables the monitoring of international targets and goals, and facilitates enhanced cooperation and coordination. »
The impact of food assistance on food insecure populations during conflict: Evidence from a quasi-experiment in Mali
Published by World Development Journal,
This article aims to evaluate the impact of humanitarian aid on the food security of rural populations in Mali. A quasi-experimental study based on two survey rounds, five years apart, was designed for the Mopti region in Northern Mali. Data was collected from 66 communities randomly selected from within food-insecure districts. Study outcomes include household expenditures and food consumption and a proxy for child nutritional status (height measurements).  Program impact was estimated by combining propensity score matching and difference-in-difference. »
Global report on food crises 2018
Published by Food Security Information Network,
The 2018 Global Report on Food Crises provides the latest estimates of severe hunger in the world. An estimated 124 million people in 51 countries are currently facing crisis food insecurity or worse. New or intensified and protracted conflict or insecurity, the main drivers of food insecurity. »
Increasing social-ecological resilience within small-scale agriculture in conflict-affected Guatemala
Published by Ecology and Society Journal,
This article focuses on the challenge of increasing social-ecological resilience in small-scale agriculture is particularly in the socioeconomically and agroecologically marginalized Western Highlands of Guatemala. Climate change is a threat to agriculture in this region and adaptation strategies are challenged by the context of a society torn apart by decades of violent conflict. »
SOFI 2017: Building resilience for peace and food security
Published by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, WHO,
This report monitors progress towards the SDG targets of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition. After a prolonged decline, a recent increase in undernourishment could signal a reversal of trends. The report singles out conflict - increasingly compounded by climate change - as one of the key drivers behind the resurgence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition. »
Sustaining Peace Webinar I – The role of conflict-sensitive natural resource management approaches
Published by FAO,
This webinar by FAO explores the nexus between conflict, food security and peace. It examined the linkages between natural resource management, investment in resilient agricultural livelihoods and contributions to peacebuilding and sustaining peace. »
Cash tranfers, food security and resilience in fragile contexts
Published by German Development Institute,
This paper provides an overview of the evidence on the impact of cash-based interventions (CBIs) in fragile contexts on the immediate, underlying and basic causes of food and nutrition security. The paper stresses the high potential of CBIs for humanitarian and transitional assistance. »
From famine to food security: Lessons for building resilient food systems
Published by IFPRI,
This brief documents lessons for building resilient food systems to prevent future famines. Food aid and development assistance provided by multilateral and bilateral donors can play an important role in reducing famines. However, long-term commitment to rural development and food security is important as well. »
Netherlands Food Partnership

The F&BKP is continuing in Netherlands Food Partnership: find more knowledge & expertise at the NFP website.