The impact of conflict-driven cropland abandonment on food insecurity in South Sudan revealed using satellite remote sensing

Related GLP Member: Van Butsic, Alexander Prishchepov

Armed conflicts, which are extreme expressions of disputes, may have a paramount impact on food security and land use. What is known already is that armed conflicts may cause deaths and refugees outflow and strong requirement for food aid. But what is not known, is how such conflicts impact land use and may have a cascade impact on food systems. The presented study first progresses on mapping cropland abandonment with multisource satellite remote sensing from 2016 to 2018, which is difficult to achieve for smallholder farming systems. To solve the puzzle and disentangle conflict-driven cropland abandonment from other factors, such as droughts, a quasi-experimental econometric modeling was performed. The study also showed how abandoned lands could secure food production and nutrition.

Farmland abandonment is not a rare global land-change phenomenon. Farmland abandonment is widespread in the European Union, across former Soviet Union countries and is becoming common in the Global South too. Abandonment may or may not lead to food insecurity, but where smallholder farming occurs, it may have strong implications on food insecurity, particularly where armed conflicts roll over.

The presented work contributed to the activity of the GLP Agricultural Land Abandonment as a Global Land-Use Change Phenomenon Working Group.