Food insecurity pervades the lives of millions of people across the world. Furthermore, the most severe incidences of food insecurity are increasingly concentrated in severely conflict-affected regions like eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Lake Chad region, Yemen and Syria. Understanding the linkages between food insecurity and violent conflict, as well as the positive relationships between food security and stability, is crucial to making evidence-based interventions from local, national and international practitioners and policymakers.
However, empirical research into these relationships has not closed significant knowledge gaps. In part, the slow progress on better understanding the food security-conflict nexus derives from serious methodological challenges. High-quality data on either domain is difficult to produce and therefore scarce, especially at the micro level, and the endogenous nature of the linkage mechanisms complicates causal analyses.
This project provides background work for the 2017 The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report. We make three major contributions: First, we review and summarize the growing body of studies of the bi-directional relationship between food security and conflict. We focus on methodologically robust studies which address the interdependency of food security and conflict, and organize the review thematically to be readily accessible to both policy and research audiences. The review not only serves as a stand-alone resource for researchers and policymakers, but also provides the necessary background to develop an analytic framework around food security and conflict.
Second, we develop a novel analytic framework of food security and conflict. While others have developed qualitative global frameworks that study how governance affects food security and conflict, our framework sorts countries into categories we call `clusters` depending on the types of conflict and food security they face. These clusters are inspired by and explored empirically using common data sets from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) and the World Bank.
Third, these descriptive relationships are then tested in several innovative case studies employing advanced statistical and econometric techniques at different degrees of disaggregation. These empirical case studies include analyses of food security and violent conflict at the global level as well as at subnational and household levels, using novel research designs.