Exactly in the middle of the 15 year MDG period the World suffered from the food crisis. Due to the crisis, achievements of MDGs on hunger, food and nutrition security witnessed during the 1990-s and 2000-s were reversed significantly in many countries.
The crisis has become an indication that it is time to reconsider radically the model and approach to food policies, implemented in many countries so far and revise the framework of development goals in the terms of food and nutrition security.
The main question is what the new model should be based on and what is the set of revised MDGs on food and nutrition for the post-2015 agenda?
Sustainable Food Policies: A Striking Case of Uzbekistan
To find out an answer we can look at the experience of countries which were successful in the terms of implementing sustainable food and nutrition policy and managed to provide effective results even during the crises.
A striking example of such an economy is Uzbekistan. The main feature of the food policy framework in Uzbekistan was the holistic approach to the issue. In fact, in Uzbekistan since the early years of independence the problem of food and nutrition security has been a part of an enormously complex policy agenda of socio-economic development. Hence, Uzbekistan had to strike a delicate balance between several, at times conflicting objectives – steeply increasing its own food production; finding a new place in the global economy; generating investment resources for industry and infrastructure development; maintaining safety nets for the growing population, and gradually implementing market reforms and supporting the nascent private sector.
Food security has always been considered as a complex problem including a triad of the requirements: a) adequate aggregate supply; b) proper access to food across the population (especially across the vulnerable groups of the population); c) safety and quality of food.
As a result, Uzbekistan was better prepared than many other countries to the recent surge of new threats to food security. In particular, self-sufficiency in wheat and some other key food products provided a cushion against adverse global trends and mitigated their destabilizing effect for the national economy and households’ welfare.
The important difference of Uzbekistan’s approach to food security from that of other countries was the combination of market and non-market instruments and components. Although this often drew the international criticism, at present elements of such an approach are replicated by other countries searching for more reliable and effective means to ensure food security at a time of global economic instability.
In a Search of an Effective Balance: Focus on the Systemic Approach
The facts above provide the evidence that in order to be sustainable and effective, the system of food policy goals for the future needs to be oriented at seeking the effective balance to put in better use the national resources of each country, prepare adequate and timely responses to possible adverse shocks, taking into account internal processes, related to economic, social and other transformations within the economies.
It is also important, that the system adjusts to the changes occurring, copes with the negative impact of multiple crises in various areas being pro-cyclical during growth and counter-cyclical while the downturn.
To find an effective balance, the new post MDG framework should implement the holistic approach. The main difference of post-MDG agenda from the current one should be that the goals are not oriented at one area (like hunger or malnutrition), but are cross-sectional and related to a number of areas simultaneously, thus ensuring the achievement of the overall development objectives. In other words, the goals and indicators within the new system will not be considered separately but only as the elements of the whole system.
The new post-2015 framework also needs to take into account the future development trends for the medium and long term. For instance, it is important to bear in mind that the growing population will increasingly put stress on the current food systems. Transformation of the demographic and social structure of the society, urbanization trends and growing income of the population will change the behavioral stereotypes and pattern of the nutrition, thus transforming the demand for food products and changing the pattern of agricultural production. It is also clear that the increasing pressure on water and land resources will require to improve agricultural productivity and provide the effective land and water management; the aggravating problem of increasing food losses will put further strain on food availability.
Based on these ideas, below is our vision on the set of goals, that could be developed to ensure food and nutrition security within the post-2015 development framework:
New Goals on Food and Nutrition for the Post-MDG Agenda: Our Vision
1. Ensure adequate aggregate supply of food by improving agricultural productivity.
More ambitious food security targets and tightening resource constraints leave no alternatives to increasing agricultural productivity as the basis for future food security. Institutions, technologies, infrastructure and government policies should be integrated within a holistic food security strategy to increase returns to all key agricultural inputs – land, water, labor and capital.
This goal should be strongly linked to the goals on technological development and structural transformations as well as the environmental goals in the terms of effective land and water management.
This goal should be strongly linked to the strategies on poverty reduction, reformation of model of social protection, gender mainstream, labor market strategies, policies to cope with the income differentiation.
In fact, in most of the cases food and nutrition security is not a problem of availability, but a problem of effective distribution. The effective distribution of food is in turn, strongly related to the governance reformation. As a result, this goal is strongly linked with the reformation of governance and institutions at all levels.
Safe and nutritious food is both a valuable outcome and important factor of economic development. As an outcome, it is an integral factor of the food security triad. As a factor, it constitutes a major investment in human capital accumulation, contributing to a healthy and productive workforce. Food quality prevents economic losses caused by diseases, and saves health care expenditures.
Therefore, this goal is strongly linked to social policies (healthcare) and social protection, governance reformation, etc.
Effective land and water management (this point is linked to the first goal, as the effective land and water management is an important factor of improving agricultural productivity while implementing the resource efficient development pattern;
Zero loss or waste of food (this point is very much linked to the new resource efficient pattern of development which also needs to be considered within the post-MDG development framework);
Energy sustainability (in fact, there is a strong positive relationship between the prices for gas and oil and prices for food. If the energy sustainability is provided and prices for the conventional energy sources are not soaring up, the food prices are also likely to remain stable);
Climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies also contribute much to ensure food security policies;
As it could be seen each goal to be suggested for the post-MDG agenda is strongly linked with the other goals of the system. We suggest the overall goals to be the same for all countries. However, taking into account that there is no one size fits all, the indicators and target parameters should be specific for each country depending on its national development strategy and objectives.
Kamila Mukhamedkhanova, Research Coordinator, Center for Economic Research, Uzbekistan
Conceptual approach to Green Economy in Uzbekistan;
Food security in Uzbekistan after 2010: News challenges and policy responses
Here are some comments from Corinna Hawkes at WCRF International, an organisation concerned with the prevention of cancer through the promotion of improved nutrition:
Theme 1: What are some of the key lessons that have been learned during the current MDG Framework, 1990-2015?
Many lessons have been learned during this period. Here are some:
• Food and nutrition insecurity encompasses a triple burden of poor nutritional status: underweight; stunting; and overweight/obesity. These three conditions can co-exist within the same individuals, households, and communities. They may also exist independently of each other.
• All forms of malnutrition are linked with health, including the development of chronic non-communicable diseases in later life. Evidence indicates that poor nutritional status is linked with the development of noncommunicable diseases.
• Intervention in early life is critical to prevent stunting and the health conditions associated with it later in life since malnutrition has a profound effect on child growth and development during the first two years of life.
• Good nutritional status should therefore be an objective for development, rather than “hunger” alone.
• Moving out of a situation of undernutrition does not necessary lead to good nutritional status if replaced by overweight and obesity. Healthy development needs to take a different path to Western nations in this regard!
• Good nutritional status is achieved by a range of actions, including on food, health and care.
• With regard to food, improvement to the total diet is essential. Focusing on one or two specific foods or nutrients can have perverse effects.
• A strong civil society can galvanise and promote action to address malnutrition.
• Good governance, including multi-sectoral mechanisms, is essential for the effective development and implementation of actions to address malnutrition in all its forms.
• Having clear goals can motivate action.
Theme 2: What actions are needed?
Taking into account the triple burden of poor nutritional status, the following actions are needed for the post-2015 development agenda:
• Actions that address all forms of poor nutritional status. Some actions are needed to address two of three aspects of malnutrition at the same time; others are needed that target the specific form of malnutrition alone.
• Maintaining and promoting breastfeeding – evidence states that breastfeeding leads to positive nutritional outcomes in all its forms. UN recommendations on breastfeeding should be followed, implemented and monitored by all relevant actors.
• Social safety nets are needed to reduce poverty and malnutrition among poor families, including systems of ensuring adequate food intake, such as school meal provision and cash. However, it is essential that these systems include nutrition standards and/or provisions to promote healthy eating (evidence suggests these otherwise valuable programmes can be associated with excessive energy intake or unbalanced diets).
• Malnutrition should be viewed as a food systems problem, as well as one of poverty and unbalanced development. This is particularly the case now that more attention and investment is being placed into agriculture. There currently exists a considerable opportunity to promote “nutrition sensitive agri-food systems”. Actions are needed to improve the nutrition-sensitivity of “short value chains” between farmers and consumers, focused on specific, and often rural, populations e.g. initiatives to promote the production of plant-based foods and their movement into the market throughout the value chain. Given the presence of huge urban populations who purchase food that has moved through long and complex value chains, action is also needed to make “long value chains” more nutrition sensitive. This is needed to bring the triple burden and vulnerable urban populations into the frame of nutrition-sensitive agri-food systems.
• As part of this, policy actions are needed that target entire populations. For example, national governments and UN bodies should build the protection and maintenance of good nutritional status into relevant policies and agreements; the food and drink industries should make nutrition an explicit priority in all stages of food systems including product research, development, formulation and reformulation, and promotion. disincentives to the food and drink industries to mobilise and create demand for poor quality diets, such as policies to significantly reduce the marketing of high calorie, nutrient-poor foods to infants, young children, adolescents, and their caregivers.
• Overall, policies and actions will only be effective if they change the 3As – the availability, affordability and acceptability of healthy diets. Policies should thus promote a combination of supports changes in the food environment to address all 3As, plus educational strategies designed to facilitate the acceptability of healthy food choices and other food- and nutrition-related behaviours conducive to health.
• Evidence suggests that school-based approaches can be effective, but that a “whole school approach” is needed (that is, the integration of nutrition in several different forms throughout the whole school, including education on the curriculum, food served in schools, gardening etc). School gardening interventions are becoming more popular all over the world as a way of integrating many different aspects of nutrition education into one.
• Multi-sectoral (health, agriculture etc) and multi-stakeholder (civil society, government etc) action is needed to ensure good governance of the triple burden of malnutrition. For multi-sectoral and mulit-stakeholder action to happen, it is necessary to create the spaces to do so. This requires a policy spaces and governance spaces, such as national multi-sectoral councils. There is evidence that these multi-sectoral governance mechanisms have more power and positive influence when they report directly to the executive branches of government, preferably at the prime ministerial or presidential level.
• Current civil society mobilisation around nutrition has largely (and understandably) focused on undernutrition. A stronger “social movement” around all forms of malnutrition is needed to bridge gaps and cut across into the health and development agenda. Further focus is needed from civil society on overweight/obesity and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases.
Theme 3: Objectives, targets and indicators
The post-2015 development framework should include goals and indicators.
With regard to nutrition, nutrition indicators should be mainstreamed throughout the entire post-2015 framework given its interlinkages with other areas, such as health and sustainability.
The Zero Hunger Challenge and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition are to be welcomed and have many strengths, but are limited in how they bring the triple burden of malnutrition together into one framework. The post 2015-agenda should be more explicit in how it addresses this triple burden in its actions, goals and indicators for food and nutrition security.
• There should be time-bound targets that take into account the triple burden of malnutrition.
• Reduction of stunting should be a key target, as should zero growth of obesity, particularly among infants and young children.
• There should also be an “indicator” on the development of food systems relevant to the triple burden of malnutrition.
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Today, many people lack access to a good training program and they don’t know how to do well in the field of agriculture, livestock, fishery, aquaculture, etc...
It's better to repromote agricultural training for youth and gentlemen in Central Africa which will be the world basin for productions according to its natural resources.
Soil degradation is a major issue in Kenya and attracting little action. We have tried our soil amendment programme in rural Kenya and have proven that repaired soils is a sure gurantee to quality food production.
No creo que yo pueda aportar demasiado. Sin embargo, creo que para solucionar el problema debemos tender a:
1. Aumentar la variación de cultivos en las áreas donde el monocultivo es predominante.
2. Permitir la explotación de tierras a agricultores pobres que no dispongan de tierras propias. Para ello se podrían poner a su disposición microcréditos de dinero que puedan permitirles la compra de tierra, semilla y material de cultivo.
3. Potenciar el uso de semillas autóctonas, adaptadas a las condiciones climáticas de los territorios de cultivo. Esto se podría llevar a cabo mediante la potenciación de bancos de germoplasma en países en vías de desarrollo.
4, Potenciar el consumo de vegetales (hortalizas, frutas, verduras, cereales y legumbres) frente a productos cárnicos, para evitar el exceso de gasto de energía que supone criar el ganado.
5. Mejorar los abastecimientos de agua en regiones áridas, mediante sistemas de pozos y riego.
Protracted crises , both armed conflicts and natural disasters, are one of of the main factors contributing to the unacceptably high degree of hunger. 20% of the undernourished people in the world are living in countries suffering from protracted crises. The relationship between Crises and food and nutrition insecurity creates a vicious that needs to be broken through tackling the root and driving causes of such a relationship. Both conflicts and natural disasters should be treated separately with designed assistance. I have attached for you the outcomes of a global civil society consultation that took place in Rome prior to the CFS HLEF on Protracted Crises. Among the many recommendations, accountability of all actors during , before, and after a crisis, was stressed upon, where local communities are put at the center of the accountability mechanism.
We there to eridicate porverty all over the world and we are glad of that everyone tries his or her best. I am a sure we can make it through joint hands against food insecurity.
We can´t work on food security without strengthening local organizations. In many cases, food security or food sovranity are related not only with poorness but especially with marginalization, cultural crisis and colonialism. In my experiencia in the Gran Chaco region, indigenous people has malnutrition problems because they lost their culture, their knowledge and consumes the worst food of western society. We must work on strengthening their own organizations, to build a multiactors context, more plural.
I really welcome the Zero Hunger Challenge. I think it is the right level of ambition and aspiration. It has dimensions that apply to all countries, not just the poorer ones--everyone has a role and a responsibility.
The components on stunting, waste and smallholder productvitiy may be able to be applied at country level, but the sustainable food systems and adequate food all year round are more internationally determined. 2040 seems like a good time horizon, with maybe a set of mid term goals in 2025. I think the key is the Zero-just as we have to think about an end to aid, we have to begin talking about an end to hunger. The more we talk about it as a possibility, the more we will internalise the challenge.
My biggest problem with ZHC is that there is no accountability--we don't know whether different actors are pulling their weight. That's why I would like to have some indicators relating to measuring commitment to reduce hunger (national level actions on spending, policies, charters, for example).
You might want to check out a blog I did on the MDGs in general (which talks about accountability)
and a recent blog on where does nutrition fit in the MDGs.
NB: Views are mine, not those of ECHO
The key lessons are that food insecurity (poverty) is caused by unequal wealth distribution, and that aid has zero effect. The key global challenge is reducing populations size while increasing earnings, wealth and job security (without migration) of the poorest. This is a political challenge because it can only be done by redistributing wealth. There is no role for aid agencies such as FAO or WFP.
Political change is the only way forward. This means action to confront wealthy vested interests at every level from local through to global. There is no technical solution nor is there any role for aid organisations. The technical solutions you refer to (zerohungerchallenge) are functionally the same as doing nothing.
Global Gini coefficient of 25? 99% of the wealth of the top 1% redistributed to the poorest 10%? In the meantime limit current international aid to directly saving lives. For example focus on addressing wasting (MUAC, not WFHz), with food aid for households with MUAC wasting only.
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)