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RISING FOOD PRICES, SOCIAL MOBILIZATIONS, AND VIOLENCE: CONCEPTUAL ISSUES IN UNDERSTANDING AND RESPONDING TO THE CONNECTIONS LINKING HUNGER AND CONFLICT

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Abstract

In 2008, the world confronted food-insecurity situations that provoked political demonstrations in more than 50 countries. The alleged sources were production failures and spiking food prices because of bad weather and flawed food and development policies. But additional contributors were the legacies of food wars, armed conflicts in which one or both sides use food (or hunger) as a weapon and in which hunger persists as a consequence of conflict and its attendant social-economic disruptions. This article argues that UN and NGO international and national agencies responding to food insecurity challenges in particular places must consider food-and-conflict scenarios, and adopt conflict-concerned strategies, which are sensitive to the ways in which past foodwars have stymied increases in agricultural production, marketing, and livelihood diversification. Policy makers should also be attentive to political-geographic-ethnic-religious (PGER) divisions that can skew government distributions and access to aid and potentiate additional conflict.

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