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The Relationships Between Food Security and Violent Conflicts: The Case of Colombia

Author: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Publication Date: December 2017

Summary: The relationships between food security and violent conflicts are conditioned, mediated and influenced by the specific context in which they take place. In the case of Colombia, the main mechanism whereby the armed conflict has had a negative effect on food security is the mass forced displacement generated by the dispute over and control of rural territories by the armed actors. Unlike other conflicts, in the case of Colombia there is a direct relationship between territorial control and the escalation and deepening of hostilities, on the one hand, and forced displacement and food insecurity, on the other. The armed conflict has historically hinged upon control of territory and its use as a means of accumulation of wealth and social and political control. As in the majority of violent conflicts, the Colombian conflict has affected food security through its destructive and disruptive effects on production, distribution and marketing of food. However, unlike other experiences, this damage has not had a significant impact on food security nationwide but instead has been felt at the local and regional level. Damage to production was caused mainly by the strategies used to occupy and control rural territories rather than physical destruction caused by conflict and violence. This analysis shows that the effects of conflict on food security extend beyond the short term. Therefore, we stress the need to supplement immediate action with comprehensive policies aimed at bringing about structural changes that contribute to achieving food security in the medium and long term. Taking into account the high priority given to food security and the fight against malnutrition in the Peace Accords, we suggest that food security policies and measures should be framed within the general context of implementing the Comprehensive Rural Reform envisaged in the Peace Accords, which must, in turn, be in line with the national development strategy implemented from the centre.

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