A newly formulated Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Security in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
18th October 2011, Barbados – At the 38th special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, a Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan was approved. The Action Plan is to implement the 2010 Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy.
A need for change
Food and nutrition security are often affected by numerous factors, varying from region to region. However, common for the food and nutrition security situation in the 15 CARICOM member countries is a low domestic capacity for food production and a high dependency on food imports, which not only leads to an unprecedentedly high and rising Food Import Bill (FIB), but also results in increased food security vulnerability to external shocks, such as rising international food prices and climate change. Due to climate change, natural events such as annual hurricanes, drought and floods, have increased in frequency and intensity in the recent past threatening the food security and nutrition in the region and imposing huge economic costs on some CARICOM member countries.
In addition, the consumption of nutritionally poor diets has raised the spectra of the so-called “double-burden” of malnutrition. The lack of access to adequate food and poorly informed food consumption patterns have resulted in the prevalence of under-nutrition in some groups and more generally over-nutrition with negative health consequences in the same community. With these factors affecting the state of the food and nutrition security in the region, CARICOM Member States committed to an innovative and long-term approach to deal with food and nutrition security issues in the Region based on a rights based approach and the involvement of Civil Society organizations in the region.
The human right to food
The acknowledgement of the human right to food is the paramount approach in the new CARICOM’s Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan, which covers a five-year period from 2012 to 2016. The goal is to guarantee long-term food and nutrition security for all inhabitants of the 15 CARICOM countries so that they effectively exercise their right to food. Thus, the Action Plan is designed to secure the provision of and access to “... safe, adequate, nutritious and affordable food for the region’s inhabitants at all times, thereby achieving food and nutrition security”. The highest priority is afforded to the most food-insecure and vulnerable population groups. Food and nutrition security actions are to be designed and implemented with adherence to good governance practices.
The Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan mandates the CARICOM countries to formulate and put into action national food and nutrition security policies and programs within the general framework of the regional plan, aimed at improving access by the most vulnerable groups to sufficient, nutritious and safe food.
Civil Society involvement
Since July 2011, the Secretariat of the CARICOM with the support of FAO, has been progressively involving Civil Society in the discussions on food security policies in the region.
In October, during a meeting co organized by FAO and CARICOM in Barbados to discuss the final draft of the Action Plan, the Civil Society signed a declaration expressing their commitment as an active partner for the implementation phase of the action Plan for food security.
Different Caribbean organizations representing women, farmers, indigenous peoples, faith organizations and young, signed the declaration while insisting in having an institutional space of dialogue vis-a- vis CARICOM. Their legitimacy as a valid interlocutor was recognized in the text of the Action Plan, which was approved by the CARICOM Ministries at the COTED meeting. Thus paving the road for an intensification of the collaboration between Civil Society organizations in the Caribbean and their respective Governments in the fight against food insecurity.
A strong collaboration
As part of the support provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to the formulation of the Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan, an online consultation, running over 2 months, was set up by the Global Food Security and Nutrition Network (FSN Forum). The purpose of the online consultation was to gather views and inputs of key regional civil society organizations and refine the strategies and actions proposed to address the objectives of the Action Plan. The Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan was developed in close collaboration with FAO through the support of 3 projects funded by the Spanish Agency for Cooperation and International Development (AECID): Coherent Food Security Responses: Incorporating Right to Food into Global and Regional Food Security Initiatives; Strengthening collaboration between FAO and the Civil Society as well as the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative.
For more information about CARICOM, please visit their website.