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Home » To Understand Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa, Consider Both Climate and Conflict

To Understand Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa, Consider Both Climate and Conflict

To Understand Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa, Consider Both Climate and Conflict

Warfare exacerbates the impacts of drought to produce food insecurity crises that last long after the drought has passed, new research documents.

World hunger has been increasing since 2014 after falling for decades, and Africa in particular has suffered from this trend. More than 20% of people in Africa are currently affected by hunger, and more than one third are undernourished, the United Nations estimates.

“To date, there is very little work done to try to quantify the relationship between conflict, climate, and food insecurity. This paper does exactly that.”

New research suggests that in Africa at least, this increase in food insecurity is being driven by an uptick in violent conflict. An analysis of food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa between 2009 and 2019 found that the impacts of drought, although significant, remained relatively steady over the period, whereas violent conflict had an increasingly significant impact. Warfare exacerbates and prolongs the impacts of drought by displacing people, affecting local supply chains, and preventing outside aid, the team reported in a new study published in Nature Food.

“This is an excellent paper that comes at the right time,” said Krishna Krishnamurthy, a climate and food security analyst at the environmental consulting and engineering firm Tetra Tech who was not involved in the new research. “To date, there is very little work done to try to quantify the relationship between conflict, climate, and food insecurity. This paper does exactly that.”

Conflict Worsens the Impacts of Drought over Time

To understand the role of potential drivers of food insecurity in Africa, the researchers used a tool called the Famine Early Warning Systems Network to look at the effects of different hazards in 14 of the continent’s most food-insecure countries.
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