Over the last couple weeks Oxfam at Queen’s food security campaign has been discussing the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the various effects it has on food security, both within Syria and the surrounding countries in their attempt to supply food for Syrian refugees. To start of this discussion we found it important to discuss the effects conflict and crisis’ in general have on food security.
How does conflict effect food security?
Majority of evidence on the correlation between conflict and food security proves to be a negative effect. There can be both minor and major impacts such as in cases of spontaneous protest demonstrations, minor impacts can arise causing food prices to increase in these areas or even causing food vendors and markets to close down for periods of time. Major and more extreme impacts are those that create “food wars”, a concept which includes the use of hunger as a weapon in active conflict, food insecurity follows as a consequence.
The Four dimensions of food security:
Availability, access, utilization and stability.
Availability of Food in Conflict?
Conflict directly reduces the availability of food firstly because it disrupts production, hostilities can prevent normal farming, fishing and herding operations from continuing, which for millions of poorer households can act as the main source of income and food supply. Many of these land owners and crop owners during conflict will have no choice but to flee from their land leaving all of their assets behind and being placed into communities in which they have no land to own and nothing to support themselves. Not only does this effect the landowners current state in other communities, it effects the chances of coming back to their land after peace is achieved. The crops and lands being abandoned can create various problems including pest and disease infestations which can take years to achieve the same rates of production as before. Conflict can also disrupt the flow of food and create public and private investments in food production and marketing to dry up due to governments in conflict diverting funds to other sources such as financing military operations.
Conflict reduces access to food?
Populations that are forcefully displaced by violent conflict suffer the greatest reduction in their access to food. As these populations are separated from their livelihoods economic access is greatly affected. In many cases refugees are forced to liquidate their assets in hopes of being able to purchase food after fleeing. Many crisis’ however drive food sales down and generates returns that are far less than anticipated leaving refugees in need of international assistance and funds to survive.
Conflict impairs the utilization of food?
Effective utilization of food is a measure of how well the access to food supplies are used to promote health and productivity. This includes adequate knowledge and application to nutrition and child care as well as having proper health and sanitation services. Conflict directly effects the proper utilization of food as their is less access and availability to food and limited access to properly prepared and stored food. In refugee camps the lack of health care is correlated to the lack of nutritional food sources leading to fatal outbreaks of disease in which many will not prevail.
Instability of food availability, access and utilization?
The main problems within conflict-related food uncertainty are for farming and agricultural communities in their decisions to either invest resources and risk loss or flee with no assurance of whether supplies will be attained.
The Syrian Crisis and Food Security Issues
Looking through the four dimensions of food security it is easy to see that Syria is facing issues among all dimensions of food security. In our last blog post we looked at the steps of how the Crisis was started and the various different degrees to which it has extended. Through these steps it is noticeable that refugees are suffering from a lack of food security. Not only is there a problem within the country regarding stability in food security, however there is a major crisis in bordering nations to supply sufficient amounts of food to refugees.
The number of displaced refugees in bordering nations is increasing and they are in need of assistance, it is becoming almost impossible to sufficiently provide proper amounts of nutritional food to the millions of refugees in need.
What can we do?
- Oxfam has reached over 1.6 million people affected by the Syria crisis, across Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
- In Syria alone more than 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance such as water, food, and shelter.
- The steady arrival of families displaced by the conflict in neighbouring countries is putting extreme pressure on local infrastructure and economies.
Organizations across the world are providing assistance:
Oxfam is providing aid and long-term support to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the crisis.
What can we do to help?
- Get informed
- Learn about Oxfam and other organization helping in the crisis
Support Syria’s refugees here at oxfam’s website:
Simmons, Emmy. (2013). Harvesting Peace: Food Security, Conflict, and Cooperation (Environmental Change & Security Program Report Vol. 14, Issue 3). Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
“Syria Emergency | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide.” Syria Emergency | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
“Syrian Refugee Crisis – Double Your Impact.” Oxfam Canada. 28 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.