What have been some of the most important achievements and some of the major shortcomings in the struggle for the right to adequate food during the past decades on the global, regional and local level?
To jump from global and regional levels, let me comment on the local (Kenya) shortcomings in the struggle for the right to adequate food: Malnutrition – both over and under-nutrition are now becoming a public health concern in Kenya. Children have persistently remained under-nourished in many parts of the country, while the adults are becoming overweight particularly in the urban areas. My main concern is that the right to adequate food is far from being achieved in areas where we have hunger due to famine as a result of drought and those from poor households. There is a regional disparity in terms of food availability and accessibility, whereby the fertile regions of the country may produce surplus foods but due to lack of or poor food processing and preservation methods the perishable products do not reach the dry and semi-arid areas. This is also hampered by poor infrastructure- the roads to these regions are inaccessible or accessed with difficulty. In addition, the gap between the poor and the rich is very wide such that the poor even the food producing zones of the country still suffer due to inability to purchase of produce food. Therefore, in such situations these women and children (the vulnerable group) whose rights to adequate food are violated really have no one to step in and fight for their rights. The government is answerable; however, there is no voice to advocate for this right to food, which is also a human right. A child or a pregnant women does not need to go hungry in a world where there surplus food!
When talking about over-nutrition, we can no longer ignore it. The right to adequate and QUALITY food need to be emphasized and nutrition education need to be core in implementing any nutrition program to educate people on the dangers of consuming too much food especially those high in saturate fats and high in refined sugars and refined grains. It is a right for this group that is food secure to be taught in ways of making the right food choices and to incorporate physical activity in their day-to-day life. Also who is answerable to this: someone will be quick to say that one has a choice on how much to consume, however do they have informed choice? Are they educated on the dangers of being overweight and the consequences that follow i.e. hypertension, diabetes etc.? What about children and adolescents who are becoming overweight and obese? We are lagging behind also in this and we need to do something quickly. The double burden of malnutrition is very costly considering the health and economic cost especially for a developing country.