Impact Analysis of a Food Security and Resilience Program in Syria

The Syrian conflict has adversely affected the lives of millions of people across the country. Assisting the conflict-affected populations and effectively supporting their livelihoods requires knowledge on how households respond to violence exposure, climatic conditions and policy interventions, and how institutional factors — such as regional governance and agricultural markets — shape these responses. However, the general understanding of these issues, and hence the capacity of policy-makers and practitioners to intervene effectively, is severely limited due to numerous challenges, including challenges to implementing programs and to collecting reliable data in conflict-affected areas.

FAO has been implementing an emergency program that seeks to support food security and resilience. The program focuses on the provision of improved wheat and vegetable seeds, as well as training in sustainable agronomic practices, which the farmers previously could not easily access due to the disruption in household incomes, seed systems and extension services.

The FAO program in Syria is particularly suited to study the impacts of conflict and climatic stress on food security and how policy interventions can mitigate these impacts for four reasons. First, Syria is characterized by high levels of conflict stress and food insecurity, which both vary over time and space. Second, and at the same time, climatic stressors are present, which also vary over time and space. Third, FAO conducted extensive background surveys before the program, which provide rare high-quality, survey-based information on food security, resilience, (self-reported) weather shocks and (self-reported) conflict stress. Fourth, FAO will conduct extensive background surveys after the implementation of the program, providing endline information.

In this project we study the micro-level mechanisms linking food insecurity and resilience with violent conflict and climate shocks in the context of Syria, assess the causal, short-term impacts of the Syrian FAO program, and derive policy implications for targeting and modalities for interventions in emergency settings affected by extreme violence.

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