By Glantz, Betsill and Crandall, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG). Information about El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events potentially has much to offer in alleviating the impact of drought and improving food security in drought-prone countries. Advanced warning of ENSO and "teleconnected" drought could allow for flexible agricultural production practices, strategic management of grain and water reserves, minimal budgetary impacts, and effective management of donor relief. This study reviews the actual as well as potential use of ENSO information during the 1991-92 drought in Southern Africa. Using the case-scenario method, this study assesses the use of ENSO information during the drought situation and then considers how the national, regional and international responses to the drought might have been different had ENSO information been widely available to decision makers in March 1991. A set of possible responses is identified based on information obtained from open-ended questionnaires and interviews that, in theory, could have been taken with earlier information. Political, social, and economic constraints to the actual use of this information are also identified, which enables us to distinguish between the theoretical and actual value of ENSO information in this particular drought situation. In the final chapter, we note that many lessons were learned from the 1991/92 drought in Southern Africa which have enhanced the potential utility of ENSO information for food security in the region. Nevertheless, potential users still face obstacles in their ability to use ENSO information in decision making. These include questions about the reliability of forecasts, delays in the timing of forecasts, a lack of understanding of what the forecasts mean, as well as concerns about the utility of regional-scale forecasts for local level decision making.
An innovative FAO's Project is promoting sustainable insects farming and harvesting for better food security and improved nutrition in LAO PDR. A recent FAO survey found out that over 95% of the population already consumes insects in a way or another. The insects high vitamin and protein content can help improving the country food and nutrition situation.
Food insecurity is common place among 44% (six million) of Zambian population. Conservation agriculture (CA) is an option being promoted to address this problem. There is little evidence showing whether CA adopters are better than non-CA adopters in terms of food security. Using a four years panel data, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, informal discussions and personal observations, this study documents the differences in household food security between CA adopters and non-CA adopters in relation to pulses. Results showed that most common pulses grown among smallholder farmers were groundnuts, cowpeas, soya beans and other beans. A tendency for the percentage of households growing pulses to be significantly higher among CA-adopters than among non-CA adopters was recorded. Cash income from pulses as percentage of total pulses production was significantly higher among CA adopters than among non-CA adopter in all the four years. Similar results were obtained for crop diversity and mean number of meals with pulses eaten in a day. Cases of women increasing their cash income from pulses because of CA practices were also reported. Focus group discussants explained that CA had reduced the intensity of food shortage during the peak hunger period because of early green harvest. With reference to pulses, it is concluded from this study that, among sampled smallholder farmers, CA adopters are relatively more food secure than non-CA adopters. Factors contributing to increased food security included farmer trainings in CA, increased access to planting seed, early land preparation and planting, and revitalisation of the practice of crop rotation.
The 2012 Human Development Report for Africa explores why dehumanizing hunger remains pervasive in the region, despite abundant agricultural resources, a favorable growing climate, and rapid economic growth rates. It also emphasizes that food security – the ability to consistently acquire enough calories and nutrients for a healthy and productive life - is essential for human development.
To boost food security, it argues for action in four interrelated areas: agricultural productivity, nutrition, access to food, and empowerment of the rural poor. It asserts that increasing agricultural productivity in sustainable ways can bolster food production and economic opportunities, thereby improving food availability and increasing purchasing power. Effective nutrition policies can create conditions for the proper use and absorption of calories and nutrients. Finally, empowering the rural poor - especially women - and harnessing the power of information, innovation, and markets can promote equitable allocation of food and resources within families and across communities.