Violence, Politics, and Food Insecurity in Nigeria

Violence, Politics, and Food Insecurity in Nigeria

Fidelis Allen (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0125-2.ch004
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This chapter explores how violence and politics affect food security in Nigeria against the backdrop of existential oil, cult, herdsmen versus farmers conflict and Boko Haram insurgency. It examines the contribution of politics and violence in the rising rate of food insecurity in parts of Nigeria. When villagers run away from the violence of cult groups, herdsmen and farmers clashes, and the terror of Boko Haram, the impact on availability and affordability of food requires more accountability. So is the link between oil violence and food insecurity, considering how the industry, through pollution, has considerably reduced cultivable land and fishing in the Niger Delta. Relying on secondary and primary data, the chapter argues that a complex mesh of illegal political relationships and considerations in frequent cases of non-state and criminal armed violence is fast reducing men and women labor in peasant agriculture, such that availability and affordability of food have become threatened.
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Food insecurity has been conceptualized in terms of citizens' inability to access adequate food and nutrition (Satter, 2007Purokayo & Umaru, 2012). Discussions of the definition of food security easily point to the Food and Agriculture Organization which contends that:

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, the stability of supply, access and utilization (FAO, 2004:4).

There is a binary view to it, necessitated by the difficulty in discussing the subject of security without, at once, referring to insecurity. The idea is, notions of security tend always to carry a background sense of insecurity. Food security relates to the nature of food systems—production, distribution and exchange-- that enable access and quality (Ferree, 1973). Indicators such as affordability, preference, allocation, and utilization are critical (Ferree, 1973;Gregory, Ingram, & Brklacich, 2005). Availability and sufficiency are essential elements of any food secure people. As such, food stock, market and price are embedded in the conceptualization of the dimensions of food security.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Violence: Is viewed from a structural and physical perspective, in which issues of justice and socio-economic change in context of sustainable development are considered.

Cult Violence: Killings, attacks, intimidation, and harm associated with activities of members of groups, who by their violent mode of operations are seen by society as secret societies. Their alliance with some members of the political class in recent times in the effort to secure political office has meant killings and rival clashes resulting in deaths.

Oil Violence: This refers to the socio-economic conditions that fuel physical violence and killings, resulting from issues that relate to the struggle for oil benefits. Environmental problems are embedded in this understanding, speaking directly or indirectly to the implications this has on people’s wellbeing.

Food Politics: This refers to the political atmosphere, institutions, processes, or content that either deter or promote food security or insecurity. It also refers to relations of power among groups and individuals at the governmental and non-governmental levels.

Food Security: Is a concept that, among others, denotes people's access to safe food and enough to meet dietary needs at all times. Availability and affordability of food, which the concept emphasizes, implies that food secure people would boast means of access, either by their purchasing power or ability to produce themselves.

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