Support to country-level learning from actions for food security in Southern Africa

Despite efforts made at national and international levels to combat hunger and reduce food insecurity, the number of undernourished people in the world remained unacceptably high at close to one billion in 2010. Asia and the Pacific was the region with the highest number of undernourished people (3,5 million), but the proportion remained very high in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 28% of the population still suffers from undernourishment (SOFI 2010).

In order to reverse this trend, it was important to understand how we could make existing global, national and local policies and programmes more effective in terms of their hunger reduction impact. To that end, much greater attention needed to be paid to put in place a more enabling environment for food security, more efficient and effective systems and processes for policy and programme mapping, monitoring and evaluation and the adoption of more effective result-based management approaches in the food security area. It was expected that this helped to improve effectiveness, ensure greater accountability and above all provide a basis for more systematic learning from successes and failures in the combat against hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.


The report of the independent external evaluation of FAO (IEE) issued in 2007 called for a renewed effort to formulate a strategic framework for the Organization which would be integrated with the traditional planning document of the organization, i.e. the Medium Term Plan and the Programme of Work and Budget.

In November 2009, the FAO conference approved a renewed Strategic Framework covering the years 2010-2019, which addresses the 3 Global Goals of FAO Members within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Conference also approved a set of 11 Strategic Objectives (SOs), Functional Objectives (FOs) and Core Functions (CFs) of FAO as well as the enabling environment and means of FAO action.

In this context, the Flanders International Cooperation Agency (FICA) on behalf of the Government of Flanders, in line with its activities in support of food security in the Southern Africa area, particularly Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, expressed its intention to also provide support to the normative work of the Organization in the area of food security and the fight against hunger on a cross-sectional basis with a focus on Southern Africa.

The activities to be supported by FICA as proposed in this note built on the resources, tools and techniques developed by FAO and contributed to achieving results as spelled out in FAO’s Strategic Framework and more in particular within the Strategic Objective (H) on Improving food security and Nutrition and the Organizational Result 1 (H01OR1) on: “Countries and other stakeholders have strengthened capacity to formulate, implement and monitor coherent policies, strategies and programmes that address the root causes of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.”

Mainstreaming nutrition and Right to Food into food security policies and programmes

The overall result of this component was an improved policy, institutional and programme frameworks for food security and nutrition at regional and national level. The main areas of work proposed under this component were:

A) Assessment of the current situation of the right to food in the Southern African countries

  • There is a need to conduct a preliminary assessment to “feel the pulse” of the countries of the region and their readiness to adopt and implement the right to food approach. The assessment should be based on ready available information such as the current draft assessment of Food Security and Nutrition on the Southern African countries and other inventories of policies and programmes conducted by FAO in previous years.
  • The assessment will cover generally four areas: (a) the food and nutrition security situation in the Region, analyzed in terms of who is food insecure and/or suffers from malnutrition, what are the specific problems, how can these groups be identified, what are their livelihood characteristics and geographic locations, and what are the reasons that they are food insecure and/or suffer from malnutrition; (b) the legal framework for food security and nutrition actions and relevant to the right to food at regional level as well as in several selected Member States; (c) the relevant policy and legislative measures in place for Food Security and Nutrition actions and the protection and realization of human rights in general and specifically the right to food; and (d) the institutional setting of regional and national public institutions, private organizations and grass roots groups to implement Food Security and Nutrition actions.
  • The assessment will also serve to plan in detail the capacity development and other activities of the project (components 1 and 2).

B) Capacity development and advocacy

  • Mainstreaming will start at the project itself, by supporting the inclusion of the right to food into the Mapping Actions for Food Security and Nutrition (MAFSAN). This means a joint effort between the two FAO divisions (TCFS and ESA) to incorporate right to food based-actions into the overall web platform and into the national adaptations that may follow as a result of the project.
  • Another mainstreaming activity will be the inclusion of the right to food into the training activities of the other components of the project. As a result, right to food modules should be developed for MAFSAN and monitoring and evaluation training programmes. 
  • As requested from the Subregional Office for Southern Africa (SFS), a training session should be conducted for all FAO staff of the sub-regional office, including the country office. This training session will impart the basic knowledge of right to food for all staff and the practical applications to all technical officers.

C) Improved Policy and Legal frameworks for food security and nutrition at regional and national levels

  • A number of guidelines and tools are being elaborated to assist policy decision-making. In particular the Policy Formulation Toolkit led by SFS is seeking to provide a concise but comprehensive guide for policy makers in Africa. There is an opportunity to include right to food not only in the overall framework but also to include other right to food tools that can assist policy formulation.
  • A stakeholder consultation should be organized at regional level. The objective of the consultation will be to demonstrate in practical terms, how the right to food can be integrated in the development and implementation of programmes and projects related to food security and nutrition. The workshop will be addressed to key national policy makers dealing with food security planning.
  • Policy assistance should also be provided under the project. The project will participate in current and ongoing policy formulation processes to assist countries with the incorporation of the right to food and food security and nutrition. There are several ongoing policy processes in the region in particular the Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP) for Southern African Countries being developed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with FAO support and the Food and Nutrition Policy of Zimbabwe.

D) Towards a Hunger-free Initiative for Southern Africa

  • The project will help to build momentum in SADC for a future launching of a regional multi-stakeholder hunger-free initiative for Southern Africa that builds upon existing policies and programmes and amplifies the current political commitment. It will promote good nutrition, feasible technical solution to food insecurity and the right to food as the ultimate goal to be reached. The project will work closely with SADC to finalize the regional policy and to develop, review and support to the operationalization of regional and national COMPACTs; and in other areas to be identified. The main activity will be preparation of a detailed work agenda for such an initiative and a proposal for future funding.