Food Security and Conflict: Empirical challenges and future opportunities for research and policy making on food security and conflict

During the previous decade there has been an increased focus on the role of food security in conflict processes, both in the academic and policy communities. While the policy community has pushed forward with new programs, the academic debate about the causal linkages between food security and conflict remains debated. This article emphasizes the endogeneity that characterizes the coupling between food (in)security and violent conflict. We make three contributions. First, we define conflict and food security using the standard Uppsala Conflict Data Program and the FAO databases, and illustrate how intervening factors influence the relationship between conflict and food security at the micro and macro levels. Second, we provide a comprehensive review of the literature on linkages between food security and conflict, focusing on findings that account for endogeneity issues and have a causal interpretation. Third, we highlight policy-affecting data gaps beyond endogeneity and chart ways forward to improve the existing bodies of data and support new data collection to fill the academic gaps and support policy making. Our article frames the ongoing debate around the causal relationship between food security and conflict, while also providing policy makers with analysis of data challenges and opportunities for innovation in food security and peacebuilding.

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