IFAD workshop to discuss food insecurity and political crises in the Arab region

By Maha AbdelAzim

Arab representatives, researchers and development agencies will meet on Thursday to discuss reducing the effect of crises that include conflict and global spikes in food prices, with a focus on the rural poor, according to a press release from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The workshop, titled “Enhancing Resilience to conflict in Arab countries through research and Arab Spatial 2.0”, is part of a three-year joint research project between IFAD, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), and will be held at the IFAD headquarters in Rome, Italy.

With a goal of research collaboration, the workshop will launch Arab Spatial 2.0, an “open-access and interactive online tool that provides food security and development-related information in the Arab world at national, subnational and pixel levels,” according to the press release.

Arab Spatial 2.0 will include analytical tools, maps and graphs that help track IFAD projects and information regarding development and food security in the Arab world.

In Egypt, about 21 million people, who comprise 25.2% of the country’s population, were suffering from poverty and poor food consumption at the last count, according to the press release. Moreover, food subsidies have increased household resilience to shocks, but they are “expensive, poorly targeted, and may indirectly contribute to malnutrition”.

The statement added that political crises or conflicts can lead to food insecurity and vice versa, as “food insecurity was a driving factor for the Arab uprisings”.

The workshop will discuss several research findings, including “the fact that food insecurity, compared to income inequality and poor governance in other regions, is one of the main causes of conflict in Arab countries”.

Another finding, according to the report, is that weather shocks, particularly droughts, increase the risk of local civil conflicts, indicating the importance of climate change adaptation strategies and rural off-farm income generation for preventing conflicts.

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