Strengthening the linkages between agriculture and social protection. Designing coherent approaches for improving food security and nutrition in vulnerable households
Millions of small-scale family farmers in developing countries are trapped in a cycle of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. Due to their vulnerability, they are subject to increased risks and shocks, such as illness, drought and pests, and frequently face difficulties in accessing input and output markets.
As a result, poor rural households often adopt “low-risk”, “low-return” livelihood strategies that reduce their income-earning potential. Given that production and consumption decisions are interdependent challenges faced in their income-generating activities also have negative repercussions on their consumption.
Many countries increasingly recognize that social protection measures are needed to provide relief to people already living in poverty, and to prevent others from falling into it when a crisis strikes. Access to regular and substantial social assistance programmes (such as cash transfers) can help recipients become more productive by enabling them to manage risks, build assets and undertake more remunerative activities, as well as facilitating their transition from wage labour into own on-farm enterprises.
However, evidence has shown that social protection programs can sustainably move people out of poverty only when integrated into broader livelihood promotion and rural development strategies. In order to maximize and sustain these impacts over time, FAO promotes greater coherence between social protection, food security and nutrition and agriculture interventions. Cash Plus is one of the strategies that can be adopted to start building cross-sectorial coordinated interventions that combine cash transfers with productive assets, inputs, and/or technical training, as well as activities to enhance the livelihoods and productive capacities of poor and vulnerable households. CASH+ should be seen as part of a broader economic and productive inclusion strategy.
To explore this nexus further and to learn from the diverse experiences in developing and applying social protection schemes that are coherent with agricultural policies in Europe and Central Asia, we would like to invite you to take part in this online consultation and to reflect on the following questions:
1) There is an increasing global recognition of the role that agriculture and social protection can jointly play in combating poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, with certain coherence efforts being made at the country level.
- What is necessary to strengthen the linkage between social protection and agriculture both at policy and programme levels?
- What are the main limitations of social protection and agriculture policies and programmes when they operate in an uncoordinated manner?
- What mechanisms and instruments can be utilized to bring social protection and agriculture together to maximize their impact on the promotion of livelihoods and food security and nutrition improvements?
2) Monitoring and evaluation of social protection schemes are of vital importance to ensure their adaptability to change and to learn from their experiences.
- How can it be ensured that M&E of social protection is inclusive of food security and nutrition aspects?
- How can the concrete impacts on these two aspects be measured?
3) The full range of benefits that can be derived from greater coordination between agriculture and social protection is not yet widely understood.
- Can you share examples of social protection schemes with linkages to the agricultural sector that have had a positive impact on improved nutrition and food security of households in your country? Could you describe the main conditions that led to their success?
- What elements are necessary to ensure a positive and lasting impact on the targeted population?
We believe that in spite of the diverse socio-economic characteristics of the countries of the region, there is an opportunity to learn from those approaches that have already been successfully implemented as well as how they could be improved. This is especially true when it comes to the implementation, administration and monitoring of social protection schemes.
We look forward to a fruitful exchange!
Your FSN Forum Team