Protracted Conflict And Food Insecurity In Africa: Case Studies Of Democratic Republic Of The Congo And Somalia




Zarb, Natalie

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Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food. This impacts millions of lives every day and often times countries that are food insecure have populations that are more likely to live below the international poverty line. Although the international community is committed to halving the proportion of people suffering from malnutrition from 1990-2015, the efforts to accomplish this goal have been limited and is still significantly far away from its target. Africa suffers immensely from food insecurity; the prevalence of conflict makes it difficult to address the problem because the violence results in fragmented communities, instability, and individuals leaving their homes to find alternate food solutions. This in turn results in lowered food production due to an inability to cultivate the land because it is either too unsafe to do so or because the land has been abandoned. Subsequently, due to lowered food production African countries’ economies are negatively impacted because agriculture accounts for a large proportion of their gross domestic product and employment. As a result of a lowered production rate, the dependence on international aid increases. In some cases, violence and food insecurity have become commonplace and organisations have failed to resolve the issue for decades. If the goal to reduce and eventually eradicate global hunger is to be achieved, it is necessary that food insecurity and conflict are properly dealt with. Humanitarian organisations must go beyond shortterm response mechanisms and implement long-term measures as well. Even though some countries may have achieved positive peace after conflict has ceased, it is not guaranteed that food security will result and that future grievances may not be expressed. It is imperative that organisations commit to assisting countries to achieve stability, transparent governments, and productive economies so as to avoid future occurrences of food insecurity and conflict. This study assesses the relationship between protracted conflict and food security in Africa. By assessing the factors that contribute to conflict and weaken a country’s food security, it was found that there is a direct correlation between the two factors however it is not guaranteed that food insecurity will result in conflict. The study analyses the response mechanisms that have been adopted by international organisations and evaluates their effectiveness at addressing the immediate problems and long-term consequences associated with conflict and insecurity. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia are case studies that are used to examine the impacts of food security as a result of conflict. Both countries demonstrate how a lack of functioning, transparent government and prevalence of violence throughout the country severely impacts people’s lives and accessibility to food which results in mass displacement. This makes it extremely difficult for humanitarian organisations to implement response mechanisms to improve the livelihoods of individuals, and while immediate food aid is helpful, it is only a temporary response. In order to properly address protracted conflict and food insecurity, it is necessary that humanitarian organisations develop response mechanisms that address immediate food needs as well as help to reduce the prevalence of conflict. In addition, it has proven to be beneficial to take into consideration other factors that are impacted as a result of conflict and food insecurity; addressing gender needs as well as ensuring access to education have both proven to significantly improve individuals’ livelihoods. Ensuring that these needs are addressed will help reduce the prevalence of food insecurity and conflict in the world and also help to work towards the other Millennium Development Goals to improve the lives of the world’s poorest. This requires long-term commitment on the part of international organisations that are willing to ensure that the symptoms that result in protracted conflict and food insecurity are properly dealt with. Otherwise, there lies the risk of cyclical outbreaks of violence and food insecurity which negatively impacts individuals’ livelihoods and moves further away from achieving the goal of eradicating world hunger.



Protracted Conflict, Africa, Food Insecurity, Food Aid