To achieve sustainable reductions in under-nutrition and other forms of malnutrition, national policies and programmes must be complemented by effective community-based actions. These actions must address and remove local causes of malnutrition, for example, chronic or seasonal shortages, lack of dietary diversity, or inadequate feeding practices. Member Nations, as well as institutions and communities, require methodological support and technical advice to formulate and implement solutions.
Community-centred approaches for improving nutrition build capabilities and empower communities to effectively demand services and productive resources and at the same time support local initiatives for implementing food and nutrition programmes. This involves increasing the participation of communities in the design, implementation and monitoring of development programmes and interventions. Achieving household food and nutrition security requires co-ordination among local institutions that can or should support food insecure groups.
A key dimension of this strategy is enabling households to maximise food security and nutrition with existing household resources, while also striving to increase such resources. This requires a process of effective1ly mobilising communities and shifting from a centralised to a more decentralised approach, with wider participation on the part of the community.
Community-centred nutrition programmes aim at building capacities and empowering people to create a demand for their own household food security and nutrition improvement. This involves enlisting in them a strong sense of ownership for developmental programmes, which in essence, become community investments for promoting their own nutritional well-being and development.
A number of activities that address problems of household food insecurity and the various forms of malnutrition are being undertaken by FAO in both urban and rural areas. An important focus is community empowerment, with appropriate support from the various governmental levels and civil society institutions. At the community level, targeted and co-ordinated efforts focusing on improving household food security, fostering people's participation and empowering women and marginal groups are needed to address local food and nutrition problems. Such efforts include: participatory appraisal and planning methods; expanding and diversifying food production and ensuring availability at the local market; improving food preservation and storage; improving water supplies; expanding and diversifying income-generating activities; providing nutrition education and training; and ensuring access to basic health care and care systems.