Food insecurity contributes to instability anywhere, but in the Arab world it is truly the main driver of conflicts and a major threat to a peaceful transition to widespread democracy, according to a three-year study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Scholars see the correlation as a feature of the so-called “Arab exceptionalism” — but what are the implications for governments and development organizations?
At a recent workshop held at the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s headquarters in Rome, several experts agreed that what makes the Arab world different from the rest of the world when it comes to food security — and which makes it especially challenging for aid implementers — is a mix of natural and social factors: Water scarcity, very high youth unemployment and the coexistence of various social environments with their own customs.
That’s why programs should be designed taking into account those unique factors, according to Khalida Bouzar, IFAD’s director for the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia.
“We need to take into consideration activities that alleviate pressure on water use, using [it] in a more efficient manner, using new technologies,” she told Devex. “[We need] to integrate young people and [the] different societies, involving all the local population.”
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