In order to set effective food and nutrition priorities, as well as strengthen access to nutritious foods and sustainable agriculture, America must view food security as integral to its national security. According to USAID, food security is "having at all times, both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life." When this access is denied, food insecurity can become a catalyst of social unrest. Nowhere is this more evident than in the oscillating political seismograph that is the Middle East.
In Egypt, as food prices rose 37 percent between 2008 and 2010, protesters in Tahrir Square chanted for "bread, freedom and social justice." Prices remain high, and despite the new government's success in curbing the price of food and goods for Ramadan, it cannot avoid continued calls for bread and social justice.
The Syrian government's mismanagement of water in the midst of a pressing drought led protesters to scold the regime by saying it took their "loaf of bread." Food and water deprivation have become a weapon in a bloody crisis that is spreading throughout the region, and the situation is only worsening.
In Iraq, government officials are telling employees at the Haditha Dam that they made need to open the dam's floodgates, as fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are advancing on the dam. When the Fallujah Dam was opened after ISIS seizure in April, the agricultural results from the flooding were disastrous. We can expect the same for Haditha.
The combination of conflict and food scarcity in addition to the broadening and deepening of drought due to climate change and resource mismanagement, population displacement, and refugee crises, have all impacted the changing landscape in the region and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
For the complete article, please see Huffington Post.