What Our Analysts Are Reading – August, 2020

What Our Analysts Are Reading — August, 2020

Navanti’s data collection and analysis are based on networks of on-the-ground researchers from all walks of life: journalists, academics, and humanitarian workers, to name a few. Our analysts also keep abreast of open source reports to inform their work. Below, these analysts have summarized and contextualized the most important articles they have read over the past month. 


 Several countries in Africa are experiencing or are expected to experience high levels of food insecurity in the coming months. In Sudan, around 9.6 million people are in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 3 (Crisis) or above food insecurity, a 65% increase since the same period in 2019. COVID-19 lockdown measures, conflict and subsequent internal displacement, and economic decline and high inflation have all reduced incomes and labor opportunities, purchasing power, and access to food in the country. Food security is anticipated to deteriorate in several countries in the coming months, including Lesotho, Malawi, and South Africa. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, urban populations are experiencing reduced purchasing power, with many in the capital city of Kinshasa unable to buy food. In Sierra Leone, 63% of the population is food insecure, an increase from 48% in January 2020. — Integrated Food Security Phase Classification

More than six years after expanding regionally, the Boko Haram insurgency remains a persistent threat to the Lake Chad region. Recourse to the threat has most frequently been through military force but – as Maza, Koldas, and Aksit suggest – limiting terrorist finances represents an effective alternative for mitigating extremist operational capacity. In their piece, the authors investigate the types of financial support which Boko Haram is reliant on, as well as what the Nigerian government has done to obstruct that support and the challenges that have made these strategies insufficient to-date. Through key informant interviews, the authors find that Boko Haram relies on a complex web of funding sources – including licit and illicit means, state sponsorship, and popular support. They suggest that while the Nigerian government has taken steps to limit the transactions from these sources, its responses must more adequately reflect the labyrinthine circumstances which allow Boko Haram to finance its terror. — Religions

The Network for Religious and Peacemakers’ study is based on the idea that counter-radicalization strategies should be informed by a more empirical understanding of why people opt to join terrorist organizations. The authors interviewed former al-Shabaab  (AS) members and identified a complex array of reasons why they joined the violent extremist organization. From the research, they developed a profile of individuals typically targeted by AS for recruitment and the factors that facilitate this process, such as religious identity, socio-economic circumstances and opportunities, political circumstances, and the need for a collective identity and sense of belonging. The study also examines young people’s vulnerability to being recruited by AS, the radicalization process, and radicalized AS members’ perceptions of government, religious identity and external role players. Finally, it uses the generated insights to discuss the reasons for the rise of AS and make recommendations to the Somali government, the countries in the region, and international organizations on how to counter radicalization and recruitment. According to the authors, the Somali government and its security forces, governments in the region, particularly  Kenya, and international agencies must develop more tailored strategies to address the factors driving AS radicalization. — The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers  


As a result of the political turmoil encompassing Belarus, there has been an absence of leadership as Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya remains safely in Lithuania and Alexander  Lukashenka continues to react with force to protesters who want him gone. Writing for the Atlantic Council, Franak Viacorka explains the role of the Coordination Council, recently established by Tsikhanouskaya to address the leadership void, and its potential to become a “genuine engine for change.” — The Atlantic Council

The rise of the female-led opposition in Belarus has directly challenged deep-seated patriarchal attitudes and inspired women to join protests against police violence at rallies. —  Hromadske

Arabian Peninsula 

Since COVID-19 first hit Yemen in April 2020, one in every four vulnerable families has lost all income and half have seen incomes decrease by 50% in that time. In a recent survey by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), 94% of respondents cited lack of food as a top concern. As opportunities for employment have decreased, food prices continue to increase. Since June 2020, the cost of flour has increased by 40%. Meat has become too expensive for most, and even vegetables are now considered a luxury for many. Prior to the pandemic, Yemen was already the site of the largest food crisis in the world due to ongoing civil war. Despite aid efforts, data warns that a million more people are likely to fall into “crisis” or “near-famine” levels of hunger in the coming months. — Norwegian Refugee Council

Latin America and the Caribbean 

 In Latin America and the Caribbean, severe hunger levels have risen from 4.7 million to 16 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In several East Asian countries (Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Papua New Guinea) the number of food insecure people remains high but decreased slightly from 112 million in June to around 100 million at the end of July. However, the number of people living on less than $3.20 per day could increase by 30 million due to the pandemic.  — Food Security Portal