- Household food insecurity1 and malnutrition are closely linked to deforestation:
1 Food security is the access by all people at all times to the food needed for a healthy life
On the one hand, the decrease and degradation of existing natural resources, due to unsustainable management, affect the way in which local people obtain and prepare their food and lead to unhealthy environments;
On the other hand (and of more concern to foresters and environmentalists), the exploitation of natural resources (e.g. clearing more land from forested areas, selling charcoal) is often the only approach poor households have or know to increase food production and generate income to feed their families.
- Furthermore, forestry projects almost always change access to land and forest products. It is therefore essential to consider the role of these products in rural livelihoods to ensure that such projects do not further disadvantage the poor but improve the overall nutritional well-being.
- Therefore, in order to ensure sustainable management of forest resources, it is essential to understand how local food systems (including coping mechanisms) relate to forest resources and to provide, when necessary, viable alternatives to indigenous groups.
- The consideration of household food security and nutrition concerns in National Forest Programmes (NFP's) is consistent with the recent evolution of Forestry development which emphasises multi-disciplinary approaches and the involvement of forest-dependent people in the preparation and implementation of National Forestry Programmes. The aim is to curb forest loss by the promotion of sustainable management of forest resources while meeting local and national needs. Since food is probably the most important basic need and since the diet of households and the nutritional status of their members depend on a wide combination of factors, nutrition and household food security provide an effective entry point for multidisciplinary activities within NFPs.
- The incorporation of these concerns into NFPs is also in line with the World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition adopted by 159 countries at the FAD/WHO International Conference on Nutrition (ICN) in December 1992. As stated in several ICN documents, understanding how households perceive and seek food security is a key to understanding production patterns including the use of forest resources. Since nutritional status is influenced by ecological, social, cultural and economic factors, understanding how these factors relate to forestry will help to identify the links between NFPs and nutrition. Moreover, this type of analysis will ensure recognition of relevant institutions.
- Ensuring effective local participation is essential for identifying and incorporating household food security and nutrition concerns into the NFP. Given women's key role at all stages of the food chain, their participation is particularly important.
- It is a practical guide for National Forest Programmes Coordinators, their teams and all stakeholders involved. The note will be useful during all phases of NFPs. It will be particularly helpful during the strategic planning, for the preparation of specific studies to analyze the forestry and forest related sectors and for the policy making and planning. The note should also provide a means to link NFPs with National Plans of Action for Nutrition developed after the ICN.
- The briefing note is divided into four sections.
2- Importance of nutrition and household food security in NFPs
3- How to consider nutrition and household food security in NFPs
4- Sources for more information.
These sources include both relevant literature and institutions involved in research and funding of related projects. Case examples of how forestry projects have focused on nutrition and household food security are included throughout the text.