Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

contributions: 42

Do current Food Security concepts serve the fight against hunger?

My name is Mark Gibson I am a mature PhD student studying food security issues and how people get to grips with the phenomenon. I am also contracted to write a book on food security to be published Oct 2011. My research revolves around the following:
After many years of research, there still exists confusion and lack of consensus over conceptualising and dealing with the problems of Food Security. Many stakeholders lack a fundamental understanding of the complex interplay and multi-dimensionality of factors. This has been attributed to food security’s complex nature which is further exacerbated by its cross-sectoral and multi-disciplined roots (Maunder 2006; SOFI 2008). It is this complexity, suggests Maunder, that in essence is both the cause of much misunderstanding and the barrier to any real consensual solution. As a consequence finding solutions is fraught with subjectivity, ill-conceived policy and regional and institutional variation. The aim of this ongoing research is to evaluate extant consensus and to introduce a new conceptual framework that will help consolidate competing or poorly defined concepts into one overarching construct. My study comprises a review of food security issues and philosophies over the last century before embarking on an analysis of present day conceptologies, frameworks and definitions. Some of these paradigm shifts have been logical and progressive while others seem to have been the epiphanous realisations of individuals. Any real solution then suggests a framework of understanding that draws on all the disparate disciplines into one overarching construct, one that does not compete but rather complements existing concepts. The questions I am seeking to resolve include:

1) Do the current FAO, US and other definitions of food security adequately serve the modern notion of food security?

2) As well as the accepted notions of Availability, Access, Utilisation and Stability, are there any other fundamental constructs that could be further added to improve the holistic understanding of the concept?

3) With regards to food security frameworks and models, particularly the diagrammatic types (DFID livelihoods; FIVIMS food security; FAO livelihoods etc.):

  • are these easy to understand, do they portray a good idea of the concept?
  • are there any common or recurring errors, omissions or ambiguities?
  • if you could improve on any of these how would you do so?

4) Is there sufficient understanding of the concept of food security:

5) Is there one website or book to read? That teaches all about food security in a simple intuitive fashion?

I would like to use the insight I gain from your co-operation in both my PhD and the book. I certainly appreciate your assistance on this and thank you all in advance.

Many thanks

Mark Gibson
Manchester Metropolitan University
United Kingdom