Tackle conflict, tackle hunger

13 October 2015
Author: Rose Caldwell

Peace and stability are preconditions for adequate nutrition while conflict entrenches hunger and unravels decades of progress. Unless the international community tries to address and resolve conflict, people across the world will continue to go without food.

That’s the message that emerges starkly from this year’s Global Hunger Index (GHI), a report measuring hunger levels across the world published annually by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) , Concern Worldwide and Deutsche Welthungerhilfe.

The report highlights that when famine or acute hunger occurs throughout the world it is often the result of armed conflict. That’s certainly something that we at Concern have experienced as an organisation working in vulnerable, conflict-prone countries.

Right now, approximately 59.5 million people are displaced by conflict and persecution world­wide, the highest level ever recorded. Displaced people often face a future of poverty and hunger; many spend up to 17 years living in camps or with host communities. With no jobs or land they struggle to fulfill their basic needs and hunger prevails.

Yet, globally, great strides have been made in tackling hunger. A largely unheralded achievement is that we have seen an end to calamitous famines, those which kill more than one million people, and hunger in developing countries has fallen by 27 per cent since 2000.

The 2015 GHI makes a compelling case for the urgent need to tackle conflict in order for ending hunger to be more than mere aspiration. Angola, Rwanda and Ethiopia represent three of the report’s success stories: countries that have emerged from large scale civil war and seen hunger levels fall substantially.

By contrast, Central African Republic and Chad, both sitting at the bottom of the GHI, have recently experienced violent conflict and political instability. Conflict-stricken countries such as Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, where researchers were unable to gather the data required to give a GHI score, are also known to have severe levels of hunger and malnutrition.

There is no room for complacency. 795 million people still go hungry every single day. So what is needed? At Concern we believe that addressing conflict is a pre requisite to tackling hunger and to do so the international community needs to:

  1. Focus efforts on achieving political solutions that reduce incidents of conflict and violence.
  2. Provide support to inclusive, effective institutions working to deliver lasting peace.
  3. Provide sufficient investment within the humanitarian system to meet the needs of those most affected by conflict.

Building resilience also offers some solutions to hunger and conflict. Through resilience programmes, governments and organisations like Concern can help communities address the range of threats they face: conflict, drought, disease, price rises and others. This holistic approach targets a number of hazards, as well as the connections between them, and is well placed to prevent one disaster having devastating knock-on effects. We are taking this approach in countries such as Sudan, South Sudan and Chad, where conflict and climate change threaten the food security of millions.

Without concerted action to lay the foundations for peace in troubled countries across the world, we will continue to see people already suffering subjected to the additional misery of hunger.

Read the latest Global Hunger Index and visit Concern’s resilient village to see how holistic programming transforms lives.

About the author

Plan International UK

Rose became the CEO of Plan International UK in September 2019. She has over 20 years’ experience in senior roles in the not for profit sector having spent that last 10 years as Executive Director of Concern Worldwide UK.