Introduction developing sustainable and resilient agrifood value chains in conflict-affected contexts
Agrifood value chains are essential for the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people in conflict-prone and conflict-affected contexts. Value chains can be disrupted by conflict, which can result in delays, higher costs, and decreased efficiency.
The FAO report seeks to assist practitioners in creating agrifood value chains that are resilient and sustainable in environments where conflict is occurring or is likely to occur. It describes how dealing with the causes and drivers of conflict can impact value chains' performance and ability to adapt. Lastly, it suggests a four-step process for choosing, analyzing, and creating evidence-based, context-specific, and conflict-sensitive value chain upgrading methods.
Furthermore, the strategy makes use of the Sustainable Food Value Chain (SFVC) framework, which evaluates the economic, social, and environmental components of value chains, as well as the do-no-harm principles, which seek to reduce the harmful effects of interventions on conflict while maximizing their beneficial effects.
Defining conflict-prone and conflict-affected contexts
Conflict-prone and conflict-affected contexts are those that face the risk or reality of violence in different forms and degrees. Furthermore, they share the common feature of fragility, which means they have high exposure to risks and a low capacity to cope with them. Nevertheless, these risks can include poverty, food insecurity, inequality, displacement, environmental and political degradation, and violence itself.
Moreover, another characteristic is the risk of conflicts: situations where actors have disagreements and disputes over goals that they think are incompatible. Conflicts can be positive or negative, depending on whether they are resolved in a collaborative and non-violent way or not, and in some cases, they can also drive change and progress.
Characterizing the interactions between value chains and conflict-prone or conflict-affected contexts
1. The impact of the conflict-prone/affected context on the value chain;
2. The impact of the value chain on the conflict-prone/affected context;
3. Conflicts present within the value chain.
These categories are examined individually, but in actual settings, they are likely to overlap and mutually support one another's dynamics.
Figure 1: The six spheres of risks affecting value chains in conflict-prone/affected contexts. Source FAO
Implications for value chain development in conflict-prone or conflict-affected contexts
Enhancing the sustainability and resilience of value chain actors and their food products and services is the goal of interventions in value chain development in conflict-prone or conflict-affected situations. However, the interventions must be well-informed by knowledge of the context, its dynamics, and the potential effects of the interventions on the setting.
To be called successful, an intervention for value chain development in a conflict-prone or conflict-affected context should:
- Improve the ability of the value chain to sustainably deliver quality food products and income-generating opportunities to the whole society despite the occurrence of multiple shocks and stressors
- Ensures that the value chain is upgraded in a manner that does not encourage violent conflict (conflict-sensitive programming)
- Remains effective, relevant, and efficient as possible despite unpredictable changes in the context it is being developed in
Overview of the value chain development process in a conflict-prone or conflict-affected context
The FAO guide on “Developing sustainable and resilient agrifood value chains in conflict-prone and conflict-affected contexts” offers a four-step approach. The steps are carried out by a value chain team in collaboration with the involved stakeholders and the country's government.
Figure 2: The value chain development process in conflict-prone/affected contexts, Source: FAO
Step 1: Context analysis
This first step gives an overview of the present or possible conflict situation in which the value chain is entrenched, as well as the situation in which the upgrade intervention will be carried out. To determine which of its features should be taken into account for the value chain selection, analysis, and design process, it is required to obtain this image of the whole conflict situation. Thus, this includes an overview of the country, the conflict, the contextual drivers, and the stakeholders involved
Step 2: Value chain selection
This stage is crucial for the rest of the process because it identifies the value chain that has the most development potential in terms of effect and viability out of all the others. Its goal is to pinpoint the value chain with the greatest room for growth from a technical standpoint. Two sets of criteria serve as the foundation for this:
- Feasibility: Can anything be changed?
- Impact: Will the modifications have favorable effects on a large scale?
Step 3: Value chain analysis
In addition, the value chain's present capacity to sustainably provide high-quality food items and chances for revenue generation for the entire society are evaluated. It is supported by a thorough comprehension of the behavior of the value chain's participants and the underlying reasons for any detected inefficiencies (functional analysis). Therefore, the value chain-level analysis results in recommendations that will help create strategic options.
Step 4: Value chain design
The recommendations resulting from the value chain analysis are used to create a value chain upgrade strategy, which is then turned into a comprehensive implementation plan and strategic options.
The next important step in the value chain design process is the creation of a vision.
A good vision statement:
- Is shared,
- Promotes the Sustainable Development Goals,
- Is realistic and entails concrete goals,
- Aligns with national development plans,
- Deals with potential trade-offs,
After the development of a vision and strategic alternatives, the value chain team creates the upgrade strategy in accordance with the suggestions of conflict-sensitive programming.
Do you want to read about cases where the implementation of a value chain development plan was successful? Find the full FAO report here.
Therefore, it is a challenging but essential task to create resilient and sustainable agrifood value chains in conflict-prone and conflict-affected environments. Even in the most difficult situations, it is feasible to turn these value chains into centers of economic growth. Thus FAO, with this report, aims to encourage sustainable development in conflict-affected communities by inspiring policymakers, practitioners, and researchers and guiding them in the process.
FAO. 2023. Developing sustainable and resilient agrifood value chains in conflict-prone and conflict-affected contexts. Practitioner guidelines for selection, analysis and design. Cairo. https://doi.org/10.4060/cc6662en
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