Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security
What do you see as the key lessons learned during the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Framework (1990-2015), in particular in relation to the MDGs of relevance to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition?
What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?
• The gap between intent and policy and practice is a major challenge to achieving the goals we set ourselves. In India for instance, a major challenge has been ensuring implementation and delivery of the food and nutrition security safety nets that are in place like the public distribution system, midday meal scheme and integrated child development services.
• The policies of globalisation and opening up of markets from the last decade of the 20th century has impacted negatively on local level food security with commerce taking precedence over consumption!
• Shrinking of investment in agriculture has impacted on production and productivity and affected food availability. In India, the rate of growth of food grain production in the decade of the 1990s fell below the rate of growth of population and per capita availability of foodgrains has come down over the years!
• Access to safe drinking water, sanitation and affordable healthcare facilities for all is still not a reality in many developing countries and negatively impact on nutrition status. Investment by the state in these areas is again the main issue.
• Unless nutrition security is prioritised and made a national agenda and pursued seriously with commitment, the goal of food and nutrition security will remain a dream.
What works best? Drawing on existing knowledge, please tell us how we should go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on.
Provide us with your own experiences and insights. For example, how important are questions of improved governance, rights-based approaches, accountability and political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security?
Furthermore, how could we best draw upon current initiatives, including the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (www.zerohungerchallenge.org), and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS?
• Generating awareness on entitlements among the community at large can be a major step forward. In India for instance, effective use of the Right to Information Act by people on utilisation of funds allocated for specific programmes has in many cases made a malfunctioning system work.
• Media and ICT tools should be effectively used for generating awareness, so that more people start demanding their rights and entitlements and thereby contribute to effective delivery.
• In India again, the public interest litigations on the right to food has led to a series of orders by the Supreme Court of India to make the public food delivery systems spruce up and deliver.
• Improved governance is at the heart of effective implementation of state schemes for food and nutrition security. It can come only with political commitment to ending hunger (like the zero hunger programme of Brazil) and not just lip service.
• Local level food security systems should be encouraged like for instance community foodgrain banks in tribal areas of India that provide support during periods of seasonal or transient hunger. Consumption of tubers and wild foods by indigenous communities is another practice of fostering local food security.
• Nutrition literacy drives in schools and at community forums addressing both men and women and training champions from the community to take the messages forward have an important role.
For the Post-2015 Global Development Framework to be complete, global (and regional or national) objectives, targets and indicators will be identified towards tackling hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. A set of objectives has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC):
a. 100% access to adequate food all year round
b. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old
c. All food systems are sustainable
d. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
e. Zero loss or waste of food.
Please provide us with your feedback on the above list of objectives – or provide your own proposals. Should some objectives be country-specific, or regional, rather than global? Should the objectives be time-bound?
a. Has to be availability of adequate and safe food for a balanced diet
b. 100% access to safe drinking water, sanitation and healthcare facilities are crucial for addressing malnutrition.
c. The majority of landholders in developing countries being small and marginal farmers, increasing their production and productivity definitely have to be the focus.
d. Zero loss or waste of food should encompass the entire gamut from the farmers’ field to post-harvest processing to consumption on the table.
e. Effective postharvest technologies and infrastructure to ensure effective processing of surplus produce is very crucial both for improving farmers’ incomes and addressing loss due to spoilage.
f. Adaptation to climate change is important in the post 2015 global development framework.
g. While the overall objectives can be generic, some objectives will of course have to be country-specific to address immediate priorities.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation
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)