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Mainstreaming the Right to Food and nutrition into the smallholder commercialization programme, Sierra Leone

FAO will assist the government of Sierra Leone in re-directing the country’s Smallholder Commercialization Programme (SCP) by adding a nutrition and right to food component. The SCP is the presidential flagship programme to boost agriculture as a business. It is part of the longer-term National Agriculture Investment Plan, the country’s national CAADP compact. The SCP attracted USD 50 million funding from GAFSP and many development partners aligned their support with one of the five pillars of the programme.

An internal review however concluded that the human rights framework could help to increase the impact of the programme. Thus FAO, with the financial support of the Federal Government of Germany, designed a project that will promote the right to food and improve the quality of diets as part of the SCP and District Development Plans.

To achieve this outcome, the project will work towards outputs that:

  • strengthen governance and coordination at national and district level; and
  • facilitate the implementation of practical measures to improve nutritional status of individuals at the field level.

Both strands of work are mutually reinforcing (see graph below). Lack of awareness about food and nutrition security and poor understanding of the concept of the right to food and associated duties and responsibilities hampers the nutritional impact of agricultural investments. The project follows a multi-pronged strategy, linking policy and practical field work, with a view to raise awareness and knowledge and improve skills and capacities to adopt healthy diets and promote the right to food.


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On 30 August 2012, the project has been formally launched by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation and the Head of the Division “World Food Affairs” of the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The project duration is three years. 

Activities

Tangible actions in the field will facilitate understanding of what the right to food can mean in practice in the context of Sierra Leone and thus facilitate the design of appropriate interventions, ensure effective coordination between sectors, as well as adequate monitoring and supervision.
In turn, nutrition action will benefit from being embedded in a broader right to food framework and closely linked to the coordination body by receiving higher visibility and gaining political strength. 

Output 1 and 2 work towards improved governance by using a human rights based approach.
The project will support the emerging food and nutrition security coordination mechanism at central and district level and i integrate a focus on nutrition in tools designed and used by the ministry to address food insecurity such as the early warning system. A campaign to promote the right to food and consumption of a healthy diet using locally produced foods to support local farmers, will be designed and implemented in close partnership with Government and development partners.

Outputs 3 and 4 comprise practical measures that strengthen technical capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food security staff at all levels and add-value to ongoing community level work on food and nutrition security by better linking agricultural  activities to nutrition promotion.
This will entail partnering with local partners working at field level, supporting synergies, documenting good practices, as well as piloting and documenting new activities (e.g. school or community gardens; community cooking demonstrations; linking mother support groups to farmer field schools...). Experience shows that engaging in practical work on food and nutrition security at the field level is not only beneficial for local communities and partners but a powerful leverage for informing national policy.

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