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Assessing the relationship between climate, food security and conflict in Ethiopia and in the Central American Dry Corridor (CADC): Quantitative analysis on the impact of climate variability on conflict in Ethiopia and in the CADC countries

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Executive summary

We live in a world of increasingly unpredictable, more frequent, and more extreme climate impacts, where the most vulnerable are also the most exposed to climate shocks and stressors and are less able to improve their resilience capacity against those. In conflict settings, the impact of climate on food security, poverty, inequality and other existing threats and vulnerabilities may push the poorest and the most vulnerable into a spiral of further risks, insecurities, and social exclusion. Similarly, in fragile contexts, additional deprivations generated by the inability of the poorest households to cope with the climate impacts, can significantly increase competition over essential resources and exacerbate grievances, tensions, and conflicts. Thus, acknowledging the role of climate on peace and security has become a priority for many national and international policy makers.

The objective of this report is to present the results of the WFP – CGIAR project “Action on Climate Change and food security to improve the prospect for peace” started in October 2020. The project is part of thematic deep dive on climate change of the broader, multi-year SIPRI-WFP knowledge partnership on understanding WFP’s contributions to improving the prospects for peace. In this study, we investigate the climate-food security-conflict nexus in Ethiopia and the Central American Dry Corridor (CADC). Both Ethiopia and the CADC are hotspots of high climate variabilities, high political insecurity, and conflicts and widespread food and nutrition insecurities across their populations. Therefore, the main research questions that this study aims to answer for the CADC countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras) and Ethiopia are:

  • Is climate exacerbating existing threats that could increase the risk of conflict in the CADC countries and in Ethiopia?

  • Do areas of high climate variability co-occur with high socio-political insecurity in the CADC countries and in Ethiopia?

  • How can WFP programming become more climate security sensitive?

The results of this study are intended to inform WFP’s understanding of the climate and conflict nexus and support the organization in addressing these through future WFP’s Country Strategic Plans in the CADC and Ethiopia. In addition, this research fits into the wider WFP-SIPRI-CGIAR joint research framework whose objective is to qualify and quantify the climate security nexus and to assess if, and how, WFP’s programming is mitigating conflict risk, including both the challenge of conflict-sensitive programming and WFP’s role in longer-term peacebuilding efforts against the backdrop of negative climate trends.