Food Insecurity Is Associated with Contemporary Armed Conflicts, From Global to Local
Date: December 31, 2016
From Global to Local, Food Insecurity Is Associated with Contemporary Armed Conflicts
Historic, Significant World Food Programme Document: Food Insecurity & Violent Conflict: Causes, Consequences & Addressing the Challenges
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Ore Koren1 & Benjamin E. Bagozzi 2 Received: 5 August 2015 /Accepted: 1 August 2016 # Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2016
Food security has attracted widespread attention in recent years. Yet, scientists and practitioners have predominately understood food security in terms of dietary energy availability and nutrient deficiencies, rather than in terms of food security’s consequential implications for social and political violence. The present study offers the first global evaluation of the effects of food insecurity on local conflict dynamics. An economic approach is adopted to empirically evaluate the degree to which food insecurity concerns produce an independent effect on armed conflict using comprehensive geographic data. Specifically, two agricultural output measures – a geographic area’s extent of cropland and a given agricultural location’s amount of cropland per capita – are used to respectively measure the access to and availability of (i.e., the demand and supply of) food in a given region. Findings show that food insecurity measures are robustly associated with the occurrence of contemporary armed conflict.
A growing number of studies of environmental stressors and social conflict posit that future wars will be fought over diminishing resources (Miguel et al. 2004; Burke et al. 2009; O’Loughlin et al. 2012; Scheffran et al. 2012). Building on insights from these studies, as well as other suggestive accounts (e.g. Brinkman and Hendrix 2011; Hendrix and Brinkman 2013; Messer and Cohen 2006; Prunier 2008), the present study demonstrates empirically, for the first time, the existence of a systemic relationship between conflict on the one hand, and food (in) security on the other, both globally and locally. Specifically, highly disaggregated cropland-based measures of food insecurity are shown to produce a significant effect on the incidence of inter and intra-state armed conflict worldwide. Unlike the majority of previous studies, which rely primarily on country-level indicators (Miguel et al. 2004; Burke et al. 2009; Scheffran et al. 2012; Buhaug 2010) or focus specifically on sub-Saharan Africa (Miguel et al. 2004; Burke et al. 2009; O’Loughlin et al. 2012; Buhaug 2010; Fjelde and Hultman 2014), the present approach uses geographic factors to estimate the regional sub-state distribution of conflict globally. Two agricultural output measures, the percent of cropland in a given region and the amount of cropland per capita within agricultural regions, are used to proxy for the demand and supply aspects of food security, respectively (Barrett 2010). Using logistic regression (i.e., logit) models, these measures are then paired with a large number of political, economic, and climatic indicators in order to estimate the direct effects of food security on violent conflict. Evidence suggests that conflict occurs in areas with higher access to, but lower availability of, food resources. Together these findings imply that food insecurity produces an independent effect on contemporary social and political conflict.