1.1 IntroductionFood insecurity has gained significant attention in development discourse in recent years, globally as pointed out by Chomba (2011:1). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development specifically sets an aim for addressing challenges of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in SDG 2: Ensuring access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food for all (Target 2.1) and eliminating all forms of malnutrition (Target 2.2) as noted by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO (2018:2). Coincidentally, the same authors argue that evidence continue to signal a rise in world hunger, with an estimated number of people in the world affected by undernourishment, or chronic food deprivation having increased from 804 million in 2016 to nearly 821 million in 2017.
This translates to around one out of every nine people in the world. According to FAO et al.
(2018:2a) Africa is one of the continent with the highest prevalence of undernourishment (PoU), affecting almost 21 percent of the population. It is further noted that specifically sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected with an estimated 23.2 percent of the population translating to between one out of four and one out of five people in the region, who might have suffered from chronic food deprivation in 2017 FAO et al. (2018:2). In Eastern Africa, an estimated 31.4 per cent of the population experienced hunger in 2017. According to FAO et al (2018:1) conflict is among one of the key drivers behind the rise in the global hunger and one of the leading food insecure causes. In addition to climate variability and extremes, undermining all dimensions of food security; availability, access, utilization and stability.South Sudan, like other countries in sub-Saharan Africa has experienced enormous challenges in food security both in the past and recent times. According to UN OCHA (2018:1) and WFP (www1.wfp.org) in 2018, an estimated 7.1 million people were severely food insecure (more than half of the population). This is despite humanitarian and development interventions by various actors such as the government of South Sudan, development partners, international and national organisations, regional bodies, private sector, religious groups, community. As a result, underlying causes such as high rates of malnutrition and diseases presented. The situation was attributed to persistent conflict, disruption of livelihoods, poor economic conditions and challenges faced in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. 1.2 Research TopicThe study topic is titled, Gendered dimension: The impact of communal conflict on intra-household food security in South Sudan: A case study of Bor County, Jonglei State. It aims to examine the impact of communal conflict on food security and consequently its effect on gender equality. The study will examine how women have lagged behind in development due to their burdening roles in particular as a result of conflict which significantly has an impact on their access and availability of food and some of the consequences it has over their lifetime in terms of participating actively and meaningfully in development bringing in the issue of inequality as a lack of a level playing field’.1.3 Problem Statement Chomba (2011:2) argues that there has been a general consensus amongst development practitioners that food security broadly encompasses access, consumption and utilization by women, men and children. She further points out that quality and quantity is determined mainly by their production and distribution mechanisms in households and in society. However, recent years have witnessed increasing food insecurity in developing countries.A linkage between gender and food security in South Sudan exists, although similar to most African countries has not received attention. Mustafa (2011:1) notes that social and cultural practices harmful to women compound the effects of conflict and marginalization. There are constant internal and external security threats, a limited understanding of gender equality, and a tendency within communities to view gender as an alien and illegitimate concern, given the acute problems that South Sudan faces. However, rarely are the issues of women, peace and security given the prominence they deserve in particular in conflict prone areas as noted by the same author. Studies and reports such as WFP (www1.wfp.org/countries/south-sudan) argue that conflict has adverse effects on food security which has linkages with gender inequality. The same author notes that in South Sudan women and girls suffer disproportionately from hunger and food insecurity. Cultural norms and decades of violence ” including rape as weapon of war masks deep gender inequalities. Men control most of the productive assets including positions of power. 80% of the country’s women are illiterate and domestic violence and early marriages a norm. Conversely, UN Women (www.unwomen.org), highlights the fact that violence against women and girls particularly sexual violence became more pronounced in the last decade. However, what is often overlooked according to the organisation are the many inequalities exacerbated by conflict that lasts well after the war has ended. 1.4 Research ObjectivesThe objective of this study is to examine the impact of communal conflict on food security and consequently its effect on gender equality. In particular, in a context like South Sudan, where women are heavily burdened with the responsibilities of fending for their families. The study will examine how women have lagged behind in development due to their burdening roles, particularly as a result of conflict which significantly has an impact on their access and availability of food and some of the consequences it has over their lifetime in terms of participating actively and meaningfully in development bringing in the issue of inequality as a lack of a level playing field’.The central question that this research study will address is as follows: How has communal conflict and food security continued to perpetuate gender inequality in Bor town, Bor County, Jonglei state in South Sudan? In doing so the research will therefore aim to answer the following research questions: What is the link between communal conflict and food insecurity ? Why has the issue of communal conflict not received much attention yet it is a significant one? How has food insecurity disproportionately affected women during communal conflict?1.5 Relevance of the Research TopicThe correlation between conflict and food insecurity is no longer contentious since there is evidence that linkages exists FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO (2017:29). A gender perspective is however relevant since studies have also highlighted that women and girls are disproportionately affected during conflicts which impacts food security FAO (2017:14). The author attributes this to deeply entrenched gender inequalities that limit women and girls’ access to key resources such as income, agricultural technology, education, credit, inputs and land. In addition, family and cultural practices often favour men and boys’ direct access to food within the household, and limit women’s decision-making power over family spending and food distribution FAO (2017: 14a).In addition, food security encompasses production and consumption at the household level, it is common knowledge that in South Sudan women play traditional roles. A gender lens is therefore important as it analyses other factors such as access to, control and decision making in resources to ensure that interventions developed are addressing gender inequalities.It is worth noting that there are many studies that have been conducted in South Sudan on food security and conflict. However, one thing in common in all these studies is that they have approached food security at a household level from a unitary model. According to Nyamwanji (2016:4) and Quisumbing and Smith (2007:1) this model considers a household as a single unit agent assuming that individuals within the household share the same preference and all household resources (income, capital, labour, and land) are pooled to achieve a common goal such as household food security. However, according to Chomba (2011:5) female headed units have emerged and increased in number in recent years due to, among other factors such as divorce, separation and/or being widowed. The unitary model masks gender inequalities since families are hierarchical and often have power asymmetries. There is little done in Bor County, Jonglei state to understand the gender dynamics on intra-household food security. The study aims to contribute to debates on food security and conflict from a gender perspective to specifically highlight the impact the issues have on women who are burdened with traditional roles of providing for the family. A gender focus is significant given the food insecurity situation in South Sudan compounded by communal conflict and underlines the importance of unmasking the invisibility of gender-specific concerns in food security measures. 1.6 Research Design and MethodologyThis study employed a qualitative approach which offered me the opportunity to interact with the respondents in the villages, at the IDPs camp and at the food distribution centres. The tools used included direct observations and interviews with respondents. Therefore, gaining further insights into their experiences and attitudes of the research study from their perspectives. Du Plessis (2017:49) argues that this approach takes it that people are experts in their social lives and they utilise this knowledge to ensure order and stability in their interactions. ACORD (2018:vi) agrees to this, noting that the approach is explicitly perception-based’ and intentionally seeks people’s subjective responses to the questions under exploration. Further, according to ACORD (2018:vi), the methodology is interpretive as opposed to scientifically positivists. The validity or certainty of the research stems from triangulation which is achieved through drawing on a diversity of sources. The data collected is narrative’ in the form of words; phrases; anecdotes and stories. In addition, the approach is most suitable in studying complex social processes such as human behaviour and in social norms as pointed out by ACORD (2018:via). Thus, the study helped in deepening understanding of complex processes such as communal conflict and its impact on food security in Bor County, Jonglei state through a gender lens. This section is further detailed in Chapter 4 of the report. 1.7 Outline of the Report This report has six sections; Chapter 1 is primarily on the background of the study, which provides an overview and insights of the topic of discussion. If further situates the magnitude of the issue of communal conflict and its impact on food insecurity globally, regionally and nationally and how this accelerates gender inequality. The section further outlines the problem statement, objectives, relevance of the research topic, research design and methodology used in the study. The consequent chapters will provide further details on some of these sections.Chapter 2 is on literature review and theoretical framework, it provides a conceptual understanding of the terms used in the study. Caroline Moser’s asset-vulnerability framework is used to analyse the gender dimension. The chapter outlines the various assets that the poor possess and utilise to sustain their livelihoods. The chapter maps asset bases for households in Jonglei state based on the framework. Chapter 3 is on historical background, which outlines the history of conflict including communal conflict in South Sudan and Jonglei state and its impact on food security. As well as providing an overview of food insecurity and its relations with gender inequality. The chapter also provides an outline on key topical issues that emerge and discusses their interrelations.Chapter 4 shares details on the research design and methodology followed by the study. It further outlines how terms were conceptualised and operationalised as well as issues of measurement. It goes further to expound on sample design and sampling methods followed by the study. As well as data collection methods and field work in addition to how data collected was analysed. Chapter 5 provides a presentation and discussion of the findings of the study. It shares the insights and what the study uncovered. The results of the investigation are presented and organised in themes. Chapter 6 draws insights from the other chapters and summarises the discussion of the main findings of the study. The section also provides a summary of the conclusion and recommendations of the study.Limitations of the studyThe research due to time and budget limitations will only cover a small sample size. Therefore, the results of the study will not be generalised to all of South Sudan.