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Issue paper

Assistance in chronic conflict areas: evidence from South Sudan. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Working Paper 20-01

People living in context prone to or affected by conflict suffer from many forms of deprivation. The international community plays a crucial role in strengthening the wellbeing of affected populations, including their food security. Unfortunately, quite often people exposed to conflict are not reached by national or international assistance because of targeting, accessibility, and marginalization. This can ultimately translate into a further deterioration of their food security status.

This paper combines a geo-referenced household dataset collected in South Sudan in 2017 with the Armed Conflict Location and Events Data (ACLED), including information on conflict events. The collection of a very detailed household questionnaire in areas extensively affected by violence allows the analysis in a country generally unexplored by the empirical literature. We analyze the variation in conflict exposure across different households that live in the same district and we test the link between conflict exposure and humanitarian assistance.

We find that those who live in the higher-intensity conflict areas, received less assistance than those less exposed to the conflict. The association is stronger with in kind provision of inputs for agriculture and livestock rather than for direct food assistance. We suggest the presence of social elites and marginalization as a possible explanation. We discuss the advantages of using cash transfers through mobile phones to normatively decided beneficiaries; evidence also supports interventions combining input distribution and markets’ rehabilitation. More evidence is needed on the modalities of delivery of humanitarian assistance in different food crises contexts.