Food insecurity affects the lives of millions of people across the world and is increasingly concentrated in conflict-affected regions. All 19 countries the FAO currently classifies as being in a protracted food crisis are also currently affected by conflict and violence. Globally, 60% of the 815 million undernourished individuals and 79% of the 155 million stunted children live in countries affected by violent conflict.
Monitoring food insecurity in conflict-affected settings, understanding the causal drivers of and inter-linkages between food insecurity and conflict, and evaluating the causal impact of food security interventions are crucial to informing evidence-based programming by practitioners and policy-makers. Yet, producing evidence on these topics faces serious program, data and endogeneity challenges: in these contexts, it is extremely difficult to implement programs, to collect high-quality micro data and to identify the role of third factors that may strongly and simultaneously affect food security and conflict (and program impacts).
The objective of this project is to support FAO in building knowledge, learning and capacity, based on the case of the FAO program in North-east Nigeria. North-east Nigeria is particularly suited to study the interrelations between food insecurity and conflict and how policy interventions can break adverse pathways for four reasons. First, North-east Nigeria is, tragically, characterized by high levels of violence and food insecurity, which both vary over time and space. Second, at the same time other stressors like climatic factors are present, which also vary over time and space and may affect both conflict and food insecurity outcomes. Third, FAO implemented an ambitious program that tackled immediate needs and at the same time allows causal inference for the impact. Fourth, FAO conducted extensive background surveys before and after the program, which provide rare micro data from a crisis setting and allow to measure the impact of the program.
The project contributes to policy knowledge, learning and capacity in three ways. First, we review and summarize robust evidence on the structural interrelations between food insecurity and conflict that are relevant to the context of North-east Nigeria. Second, we use baseline and endline survey data provided by FAO to analyze the short-term impacts of the FAO program in North-east Nigeria. Third, we derive implications that are relevant to programming, monitoring and analysis agendas in the region and beyond.