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The Relationships Between Food Security and Violent Conflicts: The Case of El Salvador

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

Summary: El Salvador is a peculiar case in that over three decades it has faced two different types of violence consecutively (the civil war and widespread post-war violence), which have had different impacts on food security. The Civil War had a negative effect on food security through decreased food production, lack of foreign currency, a fall in household income, a decrease in real salaries and mass displacement of people and communities. During this period, the relationships between armed conflict and food security were mediated and conditioned by the vast aid provided by the United States, the appearance of family remittances and the implementation of economic measures. During the post-war period, in spite of its magnitude, profundity and brutality, widespread violence has not had direct repercussions for food security. The relationships have been rather indirect through the negative influence of violence and insecurity on the private investment climate and companies’ costs of production. However, this situation has begun to change in recent years due to the expansion of violence throughout the country due to the strengthening of the gangs known as ‘mares’ and the broadening of their zones of territorial and social control. The experience of El Salvador shows that no matter how successful peace processes may be at putting an end to armed confrontation and ensuring a degree of political and social stability, they are not sufficient to prevent new conflicts and new forms of violence if those processes are not linked with and complemented by medium- and long-term public policies aimed at altering structural factors that generate violence and social conflict, including the persistence of food insecurity. It also shows that adverse natural phenomena and external economic shocks play a fundamental role in the relationships between food security and violent conflicts due to their persistent negative impact on agricultural production and urban and rural household income.

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