Essays in violent conflict and food security in sub-Saharan Africa
This essay dissertation analyses violent conflicts and food security in SSA from three different perspectives. The first essay estimates the impacts of violent conflicts on food security in SSA. Violent conflicts are a major issue threatening SSA food insecurity and household welfare. We use the de Chaisemartin & D’Haultfoeuille (2020) difference-in-differences model 〖(DID〗_M) to determine the relationship between violent conflicts and food security in three Sub-Saharan African countries - Malawi, Uganda, and Ethiopia using the Household Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS) data. Our results show that incidences of violent conflict on average decrease the food consumption score (FCS) by 7.139 units overall, which corresponds to a 16.71% reduction. For individual countries, Malawi showed the largest effect with FCS decreasing by 10.541 units (20.22% reduction). In Ethiopia, our 〖DID〗_M estimate was -4.316 and statistically significant, indicating that violent conflict decreases FCS by 4.316 on average. Robustness checks using different iterations of propensity score matching and double machine learning generate comparable causal estimates and reinforce the overall findings. The second essay estimated the spatial spillover effect of violent conflicts on food security in SSA. Even though large segments of literature have been dedicated to finding the determinants of violent conflicts, much less attention has been devoted to studying the spillover effects; even then, most studies, if not all, choose to focus on a country-level spillover effect. This essay instead uses household-level data from the Living Standard Measurement Survey for a cross-section of three Sub-Saharan African countries, namely, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Malawi. It develops a contiguity matrix weighted on the actual distance between housing units to determine the spatial spillover effect of violent conflict on food insecurity. In addition, direct and indirect (i.e., spillover) effects of violent conflicts and other covariates on food security are also analyzed. The results revealed a statistically significant direct spatial spillover effect of violent conflict on food security in Ethiopia and Uganda. The indirect effects of neighbor relations are negative and statistically significant in Malawi and positive in Ethiopia. The total effect of violent conflicts on FCS was also negative in Malawi. Other shocks (droughts and floods) had a negative and statistically significant spillover effect on food security in Malawi. Other socio-economic, demographic, and climatic variables suggest disparate direct and indirect spillover effects on food security. The third essay examined the household, resilience, and mitigating strategies to violent conflict impacts in SSA. To investigate the relationship between household food security and resilience capacity, we conducted a regression analysis that included conflict exposure and the resilience capacity index (RCI) as independent variables. Our results suggest that overall resilience capacity positively influences food security. The education RCI contributed the most to food security in Malawi, while the water access RCI contributed the most to food security in Uganda. Separate results revealed that resilience capacity for water access diminished the negative impact of violent conflicts on household FCS in Malawi. The RCI for dwelling characteristics appeared to have lessened the negative impacts of droughts on households' food security in Malawi, while the resilience indicator for sanitation characteristics reduced the negative impacts of flooding. Furthermore, study results in Uganda revealed that RCI for asset ownership reduced the adverse impacts of drought, whereas RCI for sanitation characteristics decreased the negative effects of violent conflict.
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