Re: Mainstreaming Food Security into Peacebuilding Processes

Alexandra Trzeciak-Duval and Diane Hendrick conveners of the discussion

Many thanks to all for the thoughtful opening comments for our e-discussion on mainstreaming food security into peacebuilding processes. A number of ideas to nourish the Agenda for Action have emerged. They will provide inspiration for many more comments expected in the days and weeks to come.

Let’s recall the three questions posed to frame the e-discussion and summarise what we have learned from comments received so far.

1. In your experience, what are the key programmes and processes through which to mainstream food security into peacebuilding processes and get appropriate buy-in from all those involved?

We have the beginnings of a set of principles/criteria that must apply to any programme or process to mainstream food security into peacebuilding:

  • Be context specific and in touch with realities on the ground. (Eileen Omosa, UoA & CeBRNA, Canada)
  • Develop guidelines for development actors based on the analysis of the role of local communities and their traditional arrangements for managing and sharing scarce resources. These must include gender and stakeholder analysis – with their participation -- to identify the bundle of rights held by different people to a resource and modalities for access to it. (Eileen Omosa; Hari Kala Kandel, Canada)
  • Together with local communities, facilitate the adaptation of traditional arrangements to changes in the environment, e.g. demographic, trans-border, climatic and other impacts. (Pat Heslop-Harrison, University of Leicester, UK; Krishna Kaphle, Tribhuvan University, Nepal)
  • Target and work with women in the informal sector whose economic support is vital to their families and communities and who, together with elders, often have a major role in influencing conflict situations. (Jean Max Fleur, WFP, Haiti; Eileen Omosa)
  • Ensure secure conditions of public safety that enable farmers to access their land for cultivation and harvest, people to access markets to buy and sell production, and people to access their families and social networks to help one another. (Eileen Omosa, Laetitia van Haren, World Watch Food Tank/Synergies for Biological and Cultural )
  • Aim for food security and enhancing the ability of groups to provide for themselves in a sustainable way without dependency on external assistance. (Gunasingham Mikunthan, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka; Hector Morales, GIZ, Colombia; Laetitia van Haren, Ruby Khan, FAO Somalia, Kenya, Susanne Kayser-Schilleger, Marshall Islands; Krishna Kaphle)

2.    What role can food security and nutrition play in fragile and conflict-affected states, particularly in the specific context of the New Deal Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals, and how best can food security and nutrition considerations be integrated into New Deal priorities?

  • Food security, nutrition and livelihoods can serve as a confidence-building platform where communities negotiate on the basis of an issue of mutual importance. Often agreement can be reached around shared goals like nutrition for children and vulnerable, poor households, women and the elderly. (Ruby Khan, FAO Somalia, Kenya; Heiko Recktenwald, Germany)
  • Negotiating the responsible management of communal resources (water, land, forests, etc.) can serve as an entry point to facilitate agreement on other issues that are too difficult to tackle initially. (Ruby Khan)
  • Working on livelihoods through a rights-based approach, i.e. providing access to marginalised groups, minorities, etc., can increase buy-in, not only into the peace process but also in support of political participation. (Ruby Khan)

3.    Who should be held accountable for progress on food security in protracted crisis contexts and how can we measure progress towards specific targets?

The improvement of the state-society social contract for the provision of basic services must underpin any peacebuilding process. Poverty, lack of access to basic services and general issues of basic independence are issues caused and exacerbated by poor governance. Thus governing authorities are accountable. (Gunasingham Mikunthan, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka; Krishna Kaphle, Tribhuvan University, Nepal)

But it is also the responsibility of all the parties behind the conflict or crisis to ensure that the population whose rights they claim to defend has access to food. (Kenneth Senkosi, Forum for Sustainable Agriculture in Africa, Uganda)

One of the monitoring indicators would be the level of commitment, through both verbal or policy statements by both or all leaderships behind the conflict, allowing civil society and international actors to follow-up and probe the conflicting parties’ efforts to ensure a food secure population in situations of political instability. (Kenneth Senkosi, Forum for Sustainable Agriculture in Africa, Uganda)

To keep the discussion going, we would like to probe some of these ideas further.

1) Although getting communities emerging from conflict to work together on superordinate goals -- in this case something like nutrition for children -- as a way of re-building relationships is a staple of conflict transformation approaches, in complex conflict settings a simple transfer to other areas of social interaction will not be straightforward. Sometimes natural resource access and use are merely another arena in which to play out conflict stemming from elsewhere and addressing these inter-group conflicts at another point could result in better cross-community problem solving around food access and distribution. Any intervention within a complex system will have indirect as well as direct effects, some intended, some not. This provides opportunities but should make us wary of linear assumptions.

2) The discussions around interventions at community level, intended to have an impact on food security and peacebuilding outcomes, are very relevant as much of the conflict around natural resources occurs at this level. However, the peacebuilding and statebuilding goals, and the way in which the international system approaches them, are very state-focused. What are the necessary approaches to relate these community level processes to the international state-level interventions? There is obviously much good reflection and thinking going on out there, and much to build on as we continue this discussion. We have heard voices from civil society, academia, agencies and individual practitioners. What is surprising is that we haven’t heard from key stakeholder groups we would have expected to -- and we know they have important perspectives and insights. We are especially thinking about those involved in and around New Deal processes, particularly at country level, given the importance of this initiative and its link to protracted crisis situations and fragile contexts.

This conversation will not be complete without them. This e-discussion will continue over the holiday period until 17 January 2014 so there is still plenty of time to weigh in!