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Abstract

Using nationally-representative household survey data and confidential geo-coded data on violence, we examine the relationship between conflict and food insecurity in Afghanistan. Spatial mappings of the raw data reveal large variations in levels of food insecurity and conflict across the country; surprisingly, high conflict provinces are not the most food insecure. Using a simple bivariate regression model of conflict (violent incidents and persons killed or injured) on food security (calorie intake and the real value of food consumed), we find mixed associations. But once we move to a multivariate framework, accounting for household characteristics and key commodity prices, we find robust evidence that in Afghanistan levels of conflict and food security are negatively correlated. We also find that households in provinces with higher levels of conflict experience muted declines in food security due to staple food price increases relative to households in provinces with lower levels of conflict, perhaps because the former are more disconnected from markets. Gaining a better understanding of linkages between conflict and food insecurity and knowing their spatial distributions can serve to inform policymakers interested in targeting scarce resources to vulnerable populations, for example, through the placement of strategic grain reserves or targeted food assistance programs.

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