Humanitarian food aid and civil conflict

Sébastien Mary, Ashok K. Mishra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Humanitarian food aid has long been considered to be an effective tool towards conflict mitigation among donors and policymakers. Within the Sustainable Development Goals that have the objectives of ending hunger before 2030 (SDG#2) and bringing peace and justice (SDG#16), humanitarian food assistance may play a critical role in delivering progress in developing countries. However, there have been growing concerns that it may actually have counter-intended effects by aggravating civil conflicts in recipient countries. We estimate the effect of humanitarian food aid on civil conflict using a sample of 79 recipient countries between 2002 and 2017. Our analysis exploits cross-sectional and time variation in between-country humanitarian food aid displacements. Our baseline instrumental variables estimates imply that a 10 percent increase in humanitarian food aid per capita decreases the incidence of civil conflict by about 0.2 percentage point (or by about 0.9 per cent at the mean conflict incidence). Humanitarian food aid also decreases the incidence of small-scale and large-scale civil conflicts, and the onset and duration of civil conflicts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104713
JournalWorld Development
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Africa
  • Civil conflict
  • Humanitarian food aid
  • Sustainable development goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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