How to build resilience to conflict: The role of food security

Clemens Breisinger, Olivier Ecker, Jean-François Maystadt, Jean-François Trinh Tan, Perrihan Al-Riffai, Khalida Bouzar, Abdelkarim Sma, Mohamed Abdelgadir
food policy report
2014

This Food Policy Report explains why there is a need to place even higher priority on food security–related policies and programs in conflict-prone countries, and offers insights for policymakers regarding how to do so.

Main findings 

To understand the relationship between conflict and food security, this report builds a new conceptual framework of food security and applies it to four case studies on Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. It argues that food security–related policies and programs build resilience to conflict insofar as they are expected not only to help countries and people cope with and recover from conflict but also to contribute to preventing conflicts and support economic development more broadly: by helping countries and people become even better off.

Policy implications

There are a number of steps policymakers can take to design and implement policies that enhance food security and build resilience to conflict: 

  • Recognize that conflicts often occur together with and are related to other shocks such as economic crises, price shocks, and natural disasters
  • Refrain from increasing subsidies, a favorite policy measure in times of crises, which may help keep poverty and food insecurity levels lower but do not build resilience
  • Include climate change adaptation as an integral part of conflict prevention in part because climate change is expected to significantly increase the likelihood of conflict in the future
  • Invest in creating price information systems; introduce and expand credit and insurance markets, geographic targeting of social safety nets; and construct functioning and effective institutions as key measures for building resilience to conflict