Armed conflicts, forced displacement and food security in host communities

Justin George and Adesoji Adelaja

World Development, Volume 158 (2022)


This article examines the effect of inflows of internally displaced persons (IDPs) on food security in host communities in Nigeria. It also examines the differential impacts of displacement due to conflicts, natural disasters and communal clashes on food security in host communities.

Food security outcomes are measured using the Food Consumption Score, which is a composite measure of dietary diversity, originally developed by the World Food Program. The analysis is based on the food consumption module of the General Household Survey (GHS) from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, together with survey data on IDPs from IOM.

Main results:

  • Overall, inflows of IDPs adversely affect food security outcomes for host communities. The authors suggest several explanations for this result, including: (a) increased demand for food due to the inflows of IDPs, which is not offset in the short term by the increased supply of labor provided by IDPs; (b) structural rigidities in food production and distribution systems; and (c) a slow humanitarian response.
  • Displacement caused by natural disasters and communal clashes have no significant effect on food security outcomes of host communities. The authors argue that natural disasters and community clashes are more likely to be within the domain of humanitarian response agencies and their budgets are often adequate to meet the needs of people affected by these types of emergencies.
  • Insurgency-driven displacement has a negative effect on food security of host communities. The authors suggest that it is more difficult for humanitarian agencies to respond to insurgency-driven displacement, compared to other types of forced displacement crises. In particular, security challenges create additional impediments to accessing communities.

The authors advocate for greater preparedness for insurgency-based displacement, including through anticipatory early warning systems, more rapid needs assessment, budgetary provisions for response agencies ahead of the displacements, and more understanding of the demographics of displaced populations.