Re: Mainstreaming Food Security into Peacebuilding Processes

European Union European Commission
17.01.2014

Mainstreaming Food Security into Peacebuilding Processes

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?

The linkages between fragility and food insecurity are often complex and difficult to analyse. Vicious circles are usually existing between institutional weaknesses, political clashes,  ethnic/religious/clan social conflicts, tensions around access to natural resources and natural disasters. Those circles are so convoluted that finding the first trigger element could become impossible or highly controversial. This is the case for the situation of high fragility, due to state failure of extreme institutional weaknesses (e.g. CAR). In other cases, the initial trigger element of a fragile situation could be more self-evidently linked to recurrent natural disasters driven by the growing pressure on natural resources (e.g. Sahel). In the two situations food security mainstreaming should be addressed differently.

In the latter case, focus on natural resources sustainable management and direct food and nutrition security interventions aiming at reducing the initial source of tension should be put forward. In those cases the approach should be to put together actors from different experiences and perspectives to set up together a resilience building program (see the European Commission, ECHO, DEVCO and EEAS intervention on the e-conference “Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises: Resilience-building programming”)

On the other hands, whenever the initial root cause is not easily or clearly identifiable, a pragmatic approach should be adopted. Given that i) the level of conflicts’ openness is usually going up and down depending on single contextual prompting elements, ii) initial and root causes of fragility are controversial, for analyse purpose only, the approach should be to cut down the situation at T˳.  This would contribute to have a baseline through which understanding the present conflict status, recent trigger mechanisms, knowing the parties involved and the main issues. From this analysis, different scenarios are possible.

The first, and most probable, is that the state is failed or so weak that no institution can ensure very basic services to the population. In this case the entry point should be state building together with the political dialogue with the conflicting parties. In those cases food security mainstreaming, who require minimal condition to be implemented, should be used for leveraging the state building and political dialogue itself, not as a goal per se.

The second case would be the presence of functional states and institutions eventually involved in open conflicts. This scenario could be only addressed through policy dialogue supported by emergency operations to alleviate the immediate causes of the conflict. In those cases it is difficult to imagine genuine long term food and nutrition security interventions.