The drums of war are the drums of hunger: A comparative analysis of the use of food as a weapon in Darfur and Somalia

Kamphuis, Anneke Imke (2010-03)

Thesis (MA (Political Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this thesis has been to analyse which similarities exist in combatants’ control over food supply lines to non-combatants in African civil conflict and evaluate whether these similarities are sufficient to permit generalisations about the use of food as a weapon in African civil conflict. The nature of this study is both descriptive and explanatory. The case studies of Darfur and Somalia form the descriptive part of this study. This thesis is also explanatory in that it aims to make a first attempt at theory building where such theory did not exist before. I try to explain if, how and why combatants intentionally use food as a means of power in civil conflict. Is the control over food a deliberate and rational choice by combatants or are situations of food scarcity and even hunger or famines simply a consequence of war? The case studies of Darfur and Somalia provide many similarities concerning the impact of conflict on livelihoods and food security. Famine is more an issue of limited access rather than availability. The use of food as a weapon displays a number of important similarities. Attacks on food security can be divided into acts of omission, commission and provision. In Darfur, combatants exercise a greater level of control over food supply lines than in Somalia. Finally, I argue that famine in African civil conflict is highly functional and has a distinct political-economic character. The creation of famine is often deliberate, with a hidden political agenda. In both Darfur and Somalia, attacks on food security serve a political, economic and military rationale. The political logic of attacks on food security was most important in Darfur, although here the signs of a sustainable war economy become apparent. In contrast, in Somalia, food production and procurement are attacked without the intent to destroy the livelihoods of specific societal groups, with the exception of the politically and economically marginalised groups in the south-central part of the country. The political logic is very superficial in Somalia. The level of deliberateness and organisation of attacks on food security, and hence the importance of the political logic, seem to tie in with the level of organisation of the central government, as well as with the presence or absence of a powerful ideology that clearly divides certain sections of the population from others. I recommend that further research be undertaken to analyse if theory on resources and conflict applies to attacks on food. Furthermore, additional research is needed on how to mitigate the negative effects of Food Aid. Finally, it is valuable to investigate to what extent effective government control and/or the presence of a binding ideology affect the importance of the political logic behind the attacks on food security. To this point, this research should be extended to include more case studies, with a specific focus on the factors of governmental control, ideology and political logic.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis was om die ooreenkomste oor die beheer wat gewapendes oor die voedselvoorsieningslyne vir ongewapendes in Afrika se siviele konflikte te ondersoek, en om te evalueer of hierdie ooreenkomste genoegsaam is om veralgemenings te maak oor die gebruik van voedsel as ‘n wapen in hierdie konflik. Die omvang van hierdie studie is beide beskrywend en verduidelikend. Die gevallestudies van Darfur en Somalia vorm die beskrywende deel van hierdie studie. Hierdie thesis is ook verduidelikend in die sin dat dit poog om ‘n eerste probeerslag te skep vir die bou van teorie waar dit voorheen nog nie bestaan het nie. Hierdie studie poog om te verduidelik as, hoe en wanneer gewapendes voedselvoorrade intentioneel gebruik as ‘n bron van mag in siviele konflikte. Is die beheer oor voedsel deurdagte en rationele keuse deur gewapendes, of is situasies van voedseltekorte of selfs hongersnood eenvoudig ‘n gevolg van oorlogvoering? Die gevallestudies van Darfur en Somalia bied vele ooreenkomste rakende die impak van konflik op oorlewingsmeganismes en voedselsekuriteit. Hongersnood is meer ‘n geval van beperkte toegang, eerder as beskikbaarheid. Gebruik van voedsel as wapen het ‘n aantal belangrike ooreenkomste opgelewer. Aanvalle op voedselsekuriteit kan opgedeel word in dade van weerhoud, kommissie en provisie. In Darfur het gewapendes ‘n groter vlak van beheer oor die lyne van voedselverskaffing as in Somalia. Uiteindelik is dit die argument van hierdie tesis dat hongersnood in siviele konflik in Afrika grootliks funksioneel is en duidelike polities/ekonomies van aard is. Hierdie oorsaak van hongersnood is telkemale opsetlik met ‘n gepaardgaande verskuilde politiese agenda. In beide Darfur en Somalia het aanvalle op voedselsekuriteit ‘n politiese, ekonomiese en militêre rationale. Die politieke aard van aanvalle op voedselsekuriteit was besonder opmerksaam in Darfur, alhoewel tekens van ‘n onderhoudbare oorlogsekonomie duidelik begin word het. In teenstelling is voedselproduksie en versekering in Somalia onder aanval sonder die bedoeling om die lewenswyse van sekere sosiale groepe te vernietig of van stryk te bring, met die uitsondering van die politiese en ekonomies gemarginaliseerde groepe in die suid-centrale deel van die land. Die politieke logika is baie oppervlakkig in die geval van Somalia. Die vlak van beplanning rakende aanvalle op voedselsekuriteit, en gepaardgaande die belang van die politieke redenasies, blyk samehorig te wees met die vlak van organisasie van die sentrale regering, asook die teenwoordigheid of afwesigheid van ‘n sterk ideologie wat sekere dele van die populasie duidelik onderskei van andere. Ek beveel aan dat verdere navorsing onderneem word om te analiseer of gepaste teorie op hulpmiddele en konflik relevant geag kan word in verband met voedselaanvalle. Verder word addisionele navorsing benodig ingevolge die beperking en kontrolering van die newe effekte van Food Aid. Uiteindelik is dit van pas en belangrik om die omvang van effektiewe regeringsbeheer en/of die teenwoordigheid van ‘n oorkoepelende en bindende ideologie aangaande die effek daarvan op die politieke beredenerings agter die aanvalle op voedselsekuriteit te bestudeer. In hierdie opsig behoort hierdie navorsing uitgebrei te word om meer gevallestudies in te sluit met ‘n spesifieke fokus op die individuele faktore van regeringsbeheer, ideologie en politieke redenasie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4330
This item appears in the following collections: