Paper: Compounding shocks and consequences for food security, coping capacity, and social stratification in Leer and Mayendit counties

Paper details

Paper authors Alexander Riley
In panel on The politics of solidarity during famine
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


Previous studies have long noted the centrality of social networks as part of coping strategies, including during periods of severe need, points of failure or even famine. A community level tipping point in coping capacity is a crucial shift in the development of famine conditions, yet is almost never directly and explicitly assessed. In an attempt to fill this gap, this assessment takes a longitudinal approach to examine the effects of a range of natural and man-made shocks on social stratification, and community-level coping capacity in Leer and Mayendit counties of Unity State, South Sudan. Assessment findings suggest that traditional methods of resource redistribution have eroded and the mechanisms of power have shifted away from chiefs and community elders towards youth groups. Chiefs’ courts, which are traditionally relied upon by the poorest in society to access food and resources during times of need, have been especially affected by these changing power dynamics, as well as by a lack of resources to redistribute. As a result of the erosion of traditional community-level coping mechanisms, resource distribution appears to have become increasingly dependent on familial and social networks, which may result in highly vulnerable groups without connections, such as IDPs and returnees, having reduced access to support. These dynamics may cause future periods of food insecurity to be more severe and to develop faster than before.



Alexander Riley