Conflict Remains A Driver For Global Hunger

Conflict Remains A Driver For Global Hunger

Violent conflict, which has a direct negative impact on food systems and resultant levels of food security, remain the main driver of global hunger in 2020, according to a new report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Moreover, the report warns that heightened food insecurity might create grievances that could escalate into instability and violent conflict. The SIPRI report mentions that active violent conflicts is on the rise across the world and are becoming increasingly severe and protracted.


Noting that the conflicts have a direct negative impact on food systems, the report says that it affects the people’s ability to produce, trade and access food. It says that conflict promoters used food as a weapon of war and deliberately destroyed food systems in most of the armed conflicts of late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The report warns that food insecurity may create grievances that can escalate into instability and violent conflict, acting as a channel for individuals or groups to express broader socio-economic and political grievances. The SIPRI report has called for a resolution to food insecurity or it could be difficult to build sustainable peace. The authors say that the likelihood of ending global hunger is minimal without peace.


The three-part policy paper series emphasises the urgency of addressing the relationship between conflict and food insecurity and to point out existing opportunities to do so. In the first Paper, the report informs policymakers of the intricate relationships between food security and violent conflict. Secondly, the report aims to alert policymakers to the potential ability of sustainable and equitable food systems to contribute to peace, and the action required to enhance this potential. The paper synthesizes existing research and evidence, concluding with four recommendations. The second paper explores the links in context, detailing how they play out in two specific settings: Venezuela and Yemen. The third paper discusses opportunities and practical steps that can help to break the vicious circle of hunger and conflict.


SIPRI report states that food insecurity can trigger social instability. This instability under certain circumstances could lead the way to armed violence. Apart from this, the report points out that climate induced food shortages, environmental stress, resource competition, social and food-price-related grievances are among the most common pathways through which food insecurity can trigger violence.

In the report, the authors say that sustainable and equitable food systems can also generate conditions conducive to peace. They point out the urgent need to better understand and act upon the links between food systems and violent conflict to leverage this potential of food systems. They call for a robust, multidimensional and contextual understanding of food systems and the drivers of conflict and peace

  1. Donor governments and governments in conflict-affected countries should enhance the efficiency and impact of their support and intervention if they base them on conflict analysis that explores contextual dynamics and processes through a wider food systems lens. This includes efforts seeking to both address immediate food needs and—in pockets of relative peace and stability—build longer-term capacities around agricultural production and market participation.
  2. Humanitarian and development actors should work together with local authorities and security forces to scale up efforts to break the relationship between violent conflict and hunger. Support for vulnerable populations should focus on addressing immediate needs and building capacity to strengthen post-pandemic recovery.
  3. In conflict-affected contexts, the agency responsible for the coordination of humanitarian and/or development response should set up Food and Peace Hubs that cut across sectors and different organizations’ mandates. These hubs should include local, regional and international actors engaged in humanitarian action, development work and peace building, to generate the knowledge and evidence required to identify entry points and connections that enhance the potential of food systems to contribute to peace.
  4. UN agencies and international and local non-governmental organizations are advised to include systematic collection, disaggregation, merging and analysis of data on employment and livelihoods linked to agricultural food production within existing assessments and monitoring exercises. This will support the design of livelihood programmes that are specific to different conflict and peace building environments and that can effectively respond to the loss of employment and livelihood opportunities due to deficiencies in the food system linked to agricultural production.


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