Mainstreaming Food Security into Peacebuilding Processes

27.11.2013 - 18.12.2013

Dear Forum Members,

In 2010 the State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) report estimated that there were over 160 million undernourished people in protracted crisis situations. The proportion of undernourished people in protracted crisis situations is about three times as high as in other developing contexts – and the longer the crisis, the worse the food security outcomes. The longer we delay concrete action, the larger the problem, as has been demonstrated in Africa. In 1990, forty-two percent of the 12 countries facing food crises in Africa had been in crisis for eight or more of the previous ten years; by 2010, the total number of countries experiencing one or more food crises had doubled, of which seventy-nine percent had been in crisis for a prolonged period.

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) launched a consultative process to elaborate an Agenda for Action for Addressing Food Insecurity in Protracted Crises, to be submitted to CFS 41 in October 2014 for endorsement. This e-discussion is intended to contribute to the drafting of the Agenda for Action by involving those who are closest to protracted crisis situations.

Our discussion will explore issues such as, (1) the linkages between food insecurity and fragility, including through fragility assessments; (2) the role that food security and nutrition can play in fragile and conflict-affected states, particularly in the specific context of the New Deal Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals; (3) the respective roles of governments, local constituencies, civil society and relief and development actors, and (4) ways to ensure accountability and relevance through broad inclusion, including of vulnerable and marginalized groups, in decision-making, planning and monitoring.  

This e-discussion seeks your experience and views to shape a practical, actionable Agenda for CFS adoption, which will help guide implementation on the ground.

In the ongoing elaboration of the Agenda for Action, the complex interrelationship between conflict and food insecurity is recognised – peacebuilding interventions at various levels are understood to be crucial to emergence from protracted crisis, and to ensure an enabling environment for viable food systems to underpin food security and nutrition. In addition, food security programming has potential spill-over effects and opportunities that are wider than addressing hunger and malnutrition in affected populations; improved food security and nutrition can contribute to sustainable peace-building through improved social cohesion, capacities, trust, legitimacy, amongst others. This is, however, complicated by the risk of agricultural and food security related assets also potentially being conflict drivers and/or threat multipliers.

Countries and contexts in protracted crises are often accompanied by poor governance, weak capacities and a lack of basic systems. Be it cause or effect, where governments are unable to meet public needs and provide essential services, the potential for dissent is high. Where participatory, inclusive approaches are applied, the potential for strengthening the technical and logistical capacities of government and even their legitimacy is considerable. Particular attention needs to be given to marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The effectiveness and desirability of women’s involvement in resolving and recovering from conflict, and in creating sustainable peace, has long been recognized[1]. The essential role of women in both national and household food security in post-conflict settings requires that certain barriers to their involvement be removed – such as the violence and fear of violence that restricts their access to fields and markets and the restrictions on property rights that mean they are unable to inherit land and obtain credit on the basis of it.

Mainstreaming food security into peacebuilding will require its integration from the initial point of conflict analysis onwards, and must address the power dimension, from household, to community to state level. This implies more than conflict sensitive development. Creating enabling environments for resilient communities and societies to emerge will require a long-term, adaptive engagement and necessitate new approaches to funding in such settings.

We invite strong participation in the e-discussion around the following questions to ensure a relevant, effective Agenda for Action. Examples of successful strategies, programmes and tools, would be particularly helpful to all concerned to illustrate what works and might be adapted for use elsewhere.   

  1. In your experience, what are the key programmes and processes through which to mainstream food security into peacebuilding processes and get appropriate buy-in from all those involved?
  1. What role can food security and nutrition play in fragile and conflict-affected states, particularly in the specific context of the New Deal Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals, and how best can food security and nutrition considerations be integrated into New Deal priorities?
  1. Who should be held accountable for progress on food security in protracted crisis contexts and how can we measure progress towards specific targets?

Alexandra Trzeciak-Duval
Diane Hendrick

[1] UN Security Council Resolution 1325 passed in 2000 recognised the undervalued contributions and underutilized potential  of women in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building.


Eileen Omosa UoA and CeBRNA, Canada

Conflict causes food insecurity and food insecurity causes conflict. What do you as a development worker say when your conversation with a middle-aged man on their involvement in raids and violent conflicts receives this response “I worked within the only two options available, either sit at home and watch my children die from hunger or go out and get them food through whatever  means.” The quick response will be teas for two reasons: one, your heart has been touched, and two to get a quiet moment to reflect on your `office’ prepared document on how to manage an on-going conflict.

My contributions to this discussion will be done in stages and draw from my field- experiences working in the natural resources sector for over 10 years:

In relation to approach, I suggest the need to review our basis for development plans aimed at helping people involved in conflicts (natural resources related in this case) get out of the situation i.e. are the plans context-specific or one size fits all? Drawing on my work with communities in the Karamoja Cluster (neighbouring communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and SSudan), I got to learn of the need for a good grasp of issues/reality on the ground. These include the existing methods used by local people to share scarce natural resources (pastures and water in this case), analysis of existing  policy (Local, State and international) on the role of local communities in the management of natural resources and sharing of accrued benefits. The objective of such a process will be to use the `reality’ on the ground as the basis on which to develop guidelines to be used by development agencies working with particular communities on the management of natural resources-based conflicts with the objective of attaining food security.

On methods for sharing the scarce natural resources e.g. pastures and water for livestock which in turn provide for food and cash security: There is need to accept that some of the on-going conflicts have been there for generations, what has changed is the frequency and magnitude of casualties, partly explained by access and use of automatic weaponry. Talking to people from the different communities involved in the conflict, one will come to a realization that these communities have always had well-understood structures/organizations to guide access and the sharing of natural resources.  Some of the arrangements involved the formation of alliances to share available resources available in different locations or lands held by different communities, and sometimes alliances to forcefully access required resources. Most of these traditionally managed arrangements have changed with changes in diversity and size of populations, climate change and shifts in seasons and location of resources, and the introduction or effecting of arbitrary borders that end up restricting the seasonal movement of people and livestock.

Approach: Such a situation would call for the formation or strengthening of local cross-border (community, regional, national, international) arrangements for resource sharing. Experience taught me that because local people know their history, especially in terms of who is a `seasonal’ friend, a long-term friend and a long term enemy, they are best placed to develop cross-border networking/collaboration strategies. They could do with outside facilitation in the mobilization of stakeholders and information sharing sessions.

The successful formation of cross-border networks/collaboration for sharing natural resources is a long-term process involving detailed consultations within and across communities. Within communities and households, consultations would call for an understanding of the nature of assets and decision-making. For example the perception of an outsider might be that conflicts are started by men because they are the ones who participate in actual fights. However, interactions and discussions with community members as men, women, elders and children could reveal that men from particular communities cannot participate in a violent conflict without blessings from women or elders. A seemingly minor but very critical factor in efforts put towards the transformation of conflicts and peacebuilding.

My suggestion: The need for gender and stakeholder analysis to identity the bundle of rights held by different people to a resource, and existing modalities for access to the resource. Analysis to identity existing resources/assets held by the households, with the objective of facilitating them to diversify their livelihood strategies either by adding value to their local resources or moving away from dependency on natural resources. The need to share information and lobby concerned governments to separate reality from politics i.e. respect the cross-border movements as traditional ways of accessing seasonal natural resources and not a sign of `non-committed citizens’.

The picture of a well-managed conflict: Local people are able to visit their farms, cultivate and harvest food crops without fear of attacks or losing their crop to thieves. Local people travel to and from markets without having to surrender their merchandize or cash to armed attackers. Families in need are able to reach to their social relations and networks to receive food items, etc.



Health-Food Security and Conflict all go hand in hand. Managing, mitigating resources, equity, gender role reversal are some issues to address them. The misconception that developed nations are free from hunger is far from truth. Local food culture development, healthy eating initiatives over spending on health should be envisioned from early school education. Training child care profesonals, health care aides and others to realize the value of good eating and adopting them should be promoted, evaluated and encouraged.

Food waste, the worst of all evils, should find top spot in the list of vices, if we are to feed the hungry billions. Filled bellys and busy brains will find something else to do rather than go and snatch someone else's resources. History, that have praized mideveal era "heros" should again be rewritten and taught critically for exposing the greed, conspiricy and plights those invasions/wars cost.

Krishna Kaphle Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Dear Moderator,

Thank You for the initiative and role in conducting such an important issue for discussion. Please find attached my comments in the PDF file. 

Best regards

Krishna Kaphle, PhD

Acting Campus Chief
Associate Professor and Student Welfare Chief
Head of  Department of Theriogenology

Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Tribhuvan University
Rampur, Chitwan, Nepal


Gunasingham Mikunthan University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka

The programmes on food security to a peace-building process should be develped to the participation of all families affected and there should be consideration to get the reasonable share to feed the family members initially through access to relief materials but later to support them to produce their minimal food. These vaulbarable groups have to be taken care their family welbeing otherwise they could be utilized by anyone.

Those families could be grouped and the task should be given to the members by providing starter materials. They could be educated/trained then and there and let them come out this tragedy of shortage of food materials.

As I mentioned, people under the conflict areas are vulnarable to the availability of food, nutrient supplement and income generation. This could be considered seriously and programs should be developed to admire them and to support them to come out possible solutions. Solutions already taken in a different place may not work rather, decisions should be taken with the concern of the active members in the village. Appropriate representation would help to design most appropriate mechanism to do the changes

All state and non state sectors are  responsible for the sufferings and all stackholder is into your decision making but the members should get a wonderful exposure

Pat Heslop-Harrison University of Leicester, United Kingdom

"Countries and contexts in protracted crises are often accompanied by poor governance, weak capacities and a lack of basic systems."

How about adding "or rapid population growth" to this sentence? Many countries have 'basic systems' and 'capacities' which in absolute terms have improved enormously in this century, but relative to population have declined. For example, will anybody be evaluating formally whether the tragic events in the Philippines would have had a different outcome with a population less than 80 million (2000) compared to 100 million now (2013)? Has infrastructure and planning improved in this time but been overwhelmed by extra pressures from population growth?