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War and Poverty . Links Between Conflict and Hunger . What is conflict ?. “Conflict : The differences and clashes between needs, interest, perceptions and activities of actors which are part of social life” — Verstegen , 2001 Embedded in society - It is MAN MADE

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what is conflict
What is conflict ?
  • “Conflict : The differences and clashes between needs, interest, perceptions and activities of actors which are part of social life” —Verstegen, 2001
  • Embedded in society - It is MAN MADE
  • Can be violent or non-violent
what is conflict1
What is conflict ?
  • Poverty and hunger can be both a cause and consequence of conflict
  • Hunger and violent conflict —> Famines
  • Runs through various stages of escalation:
    • Stable peace
    • Unstable peace/latent conflict
    • High tension
    • Open conflict
what can cause conflict
What can cause conflict?
  • Opposing interests
    • Usually aggravated by socio-cultural differences
    • Religion, class, ethnicity, language, and political views
  • Socio-economic and political inequalities
    • Power imbalance - concentration of power in the hands of very few people
    • Coercive state power
  • Competition for resources
    • Fertile land
    • Energy resources
    • Water
who does conflict involve and affect
Who does conflict involve and affect?
  • Often caught up in the midst of conflict
    • Political groups
    • Ethnic, religious or language groups
    • Regional or class groups
  • Vulnerable groups (those w/o power...)
    • Women, children, the poorest of the poor
    • Children of war -> Child Soldiers
    • Victimization of Women
    • Poor people without any options
what can trigger conflict
What can trigger conflict ?
  • Perception of:
    • Opportunity
    • Threat
    • Injustice
  • Fear is a powerful weapon
  • The use of media and education to promote socio-cultural difference with ill intentions
links between hunger and conflict
Links between Hunger and Conflict
  • War and conflict destroys a country’s assets
    • Land and water
    • Biological resources
    • Human Capital (the people), e.g. Cambodia
  • Government expenditures:
    • Lower investments in education, health, agriculture and environmental protection (e.g. buying guns vs. building schools)
links between hunger and conflict1
Links between Hunger and Conflict
  • Food and economic insecurity
  • Natural resource scarcity — can itself be a source of conflict
    • When dominant groups seize the land and food resources from marginalized portions of the population => often leads to violence. (e.g. Rwanda, Sudan, Ethiopia)
breaking the link between hunger and conflict
Breaking the link between hunger and conflict?
  • What comes first? hunger or conflict?
    • Conflicts can lead to hunger and reduce food production (e.g. Zimbabwe)
    • Hunger and lack of access to food often times leads to violent conflicts (e.g. Food riots in Haiti)
  • Fighting hunger will require both:
    • Prevention and resolution of violent conflicts
    • Re-building war-torn societies
how can conflict lead to food insecurity
How can conflict lead to food insecurity?
  • Massive numbers of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and refugees
  • People losing their assets (e.g. homes)
  • Destruction of markets
  • Workplace inaccessibility—specially true for farmers (no farmers, no food!)
  • Government instability
    • More corruption.
    • Diversion of donor assistance...
food wars and food as a weapon
“Food Wars” and “Food as a Weapon”
  • “Includes the use of hunger as a weapon or hunger that follows from destructive conflict”

-Messer, Cohen, D’Costa, 1998

  • 1980 and 1990 famines in Africa, Asia, Central and South America
    • Post-conflict economies = lack of resources
    • Chronic food underproduction
    • Food insecurity
    • E.g. Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Mexico
  • Today’s examples include:
    • Zimbabwe
    • Sudan (Darfur)
    • Sierra Leone
    • Afghanistan
    • Iraq
delivering food aid in conflict areas
Delivering Food Aid in Conflict areas
  • Aid must be delivered in ways that prevent competition leading to conflict
    • Food in the hands of women
  • Distributing the aid in ways that do NOT prolong the conflict
    • Food to non-combat population
food aid in conflict areas
Food Aid in conflict areas
  • The UN and other humanitarian agencies provide aid to civilian population to prevent famine deaths
  • Food aid is very difficult
    • Combats will hijack the aid and use it as means of war to reward supporters, starve opponents, and keep the conflict alive
    • Aid workers are also victims of the violence
    • Hard and expensive to recruit people working on this line of work
delivering food aid in conflict areas1
Delivering Food Aid in Conflict areas
  • Accountability from those delivering the food
    • Ensure the food gets to those who need it
  • Help with reconstruction assistance
    • Food for work . Building social capital by working with communities
the aftermath of war
The Aftermath of War
  • Land mines have to be removed
  • Destroyed infrastructure most be re-built (roads, bridges, water systems, etc)
  • Housing re-built
the aftermath of war1
The Aftermath of War
  • Agricultural systems and food markets have to be restored
  • Communities revitalized
    • Children back to school
    • Parents back to work
    • Deal with psychological consequences of war
prevention and resolution
Prevention and Resolution
  • Diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy!
  • Conflict early warning systems that include social, political, and economic factors
    • What are the major groups involved? What are their claims? Which groups are most vulnerable ?
    • Bolivian separatist conflict. Possible civil war.
prevention and resolution1
Prevention and Resolution
  • Contingency planning
    • Pre and post war aid
  • International Intervention when it is really needed (e.g. Rwanda—the international community failed)
conflict can affect everybody regardless of race
Conflict can affect everybody regardless of race


  • Former Yugoslavia: Ethnic cleansing.
    • In the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict between the three main ethnic groups,
    • the Serbs (Orthodox Christians), Croats (Catholics), and Albanians (Muslims),
    • resulted in genocide committed by the Serbs against the Muslims in Bosnia.
  • Colombia:



Foreign Aid Workers: