Food security in Iraq: results from quantitative and qualitative surveys
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Iraq’s food security has been profoundly affected by its oil-based economy, over three decades of conflict and its politics that have been shaped by authoritarian rentierism. The article outlines the political economy of food security in Iraq and how it has been shaped historically. It identifies various conditioning factors such as oil, conflict, environment, agricultural development strategies and institutional setups, such as the Public Distribution System (PDS), the world’s largest public food program. It then disentangles these factors in an analysis of data from Gallup, Iraq Body Count and various international organizations to give an appreciation of the Iraqi food security situation since the end of the Saddam regime. Finally, it takes a look at views of Iraqi experts on current food security issues in Iraq, using the results of an online survey that was conducted from May–October 2015 among 152 Iraqi experts from academia, ministries and NGOs. Iraqis overwhelmingly identify political instability and bad governance as major challenges to food security; it is unlikely that mere technocratic policy prescriptions can improve food security in the absence of political stability and improved governance.
KeywordsFood security Agriculture Iraq Middle East Authoritarianism Isis
A Marie Curie grant of the European Commission (RUDEFOPOS-IRAQ, no. 618773) provided support for this research. I am grateful to Nathan Hodson and Hadi Jaafar for discussions on data collection and analysis.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
A Marie Curie grant of the European Commission (RUDEFOPOS-IRAQ, no. 618773) provided support for this research. The grant making institution was not involved in the conduct of the research. The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. An ethical review committee of the grant making European Commission went through the research design and ensured its compliance with ethical standards of human subjects research. An Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of Princeton University was obtained for archival research on Iraqi food security.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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