Institutional Building and Capacity Development


Capacity development is the process of unleashing, strengthening and maintaining the ability of people, organizations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully. Being at the heart of FAO's mandate since its founding, it is a core function highlighted in the organization's strategic framework, encouraging countries to design and implement national policies that will help reduce poverty and foster food security and nutrition.

Real and lasting change in agricultural development and food security is driven by strong and sustained capacities. These capacities must be enhanced across every level of government, and should involve other actors such as civil society organizations, social movements, academia and the private sector. Thus, capacity development must take place across three different dimensions. A fundamental condition for a country to reach its development goals lies in its capacities at individual and organizational levels and in building an enabling environment.

  • The individual dimension refers to the knowledge, skills, behavior and attitudes of people.
  • The organizational dimension refers to the mandates, priorities, processes and structures of public, private and civil society organizations. It includes public and private organizations, civil society organizations, social movements and networks of organizations.
  • The enabling environment is the context in which individuals and organizations work and includes a country’s institutional set-up, power structures and policy and legal frameworks.

Effective capacity development in right to food recognizes and addresses these three interlinked dimensions. It improves the knowledge, skills, behavior and attitudes of individuals; modifies the mandates, priorities, processes and structures of public, private and civil society organizations; and strengthens the political will, policy and legal frameworks and other elements to provide an overall environment that facilitates the achievement – implementation of the right to food.

Capacity development of practitioners, policy makers, ombudsmen and parliamentarians

The realization of the right to food requires strengthening the capacities of a wide range of stakeholders in order for them to be able to apply a human rights based approach within its own role and mandate.

Targeted capacity development programmes on the right to food are designed and provided to officials, including civil servants, policy makers and administrators of relevant programmes, as well as to lawyers, ombudspersons and judges who may be called upon to take judicial action on violations of human rights.

Parliaments are key partners in the fight against hunger. Within their mandate, legislators may promote legal frameworks contributing to the realization of the right to food and at the same time can define the financial resources for the programs generated by such laws. With the support of the Hunger Free Latin America and Caribbean Initiative, Parliamentary Fronts against Hunger (PFH) have been created in the Latin American region with two major objectives: i) to boost hunger eradication and to ensure that this goal is positioned in the public agendas, building upon the efforts of members of parliament and congresspersons of national, regional and inter-American legislative bodies; ii) give this effort the legal, institutional and financial structure necessary for its success. In this context, targeted capacity building sessions are provided to Parliamentarians on the right to food and its way to implement it through national legal frameworks.

National food and nutrition security councils

National councils on food and nutrition security are being established in many countries to serve as an advisory body to high-level authorities when developing policies and guidelines for guaranteeing the human right to adequate food. These councils have been effective in furthering the implementation of the right to food and encouraging civil society participation in the development and implementation of food security and nutrition policies and programmes. The Right to Food Team is supporting the implementation and further support in several of these councils at national and sub-national levels.

District level implementation of right to food

Participatory planning and implementation of local level actions offers the opportunity to fully address the priorities of families and communities through an empowering development process. However, three conditions are essential. First, an enabling policy, legislative and institutional environment needs to be in place for grass roots participation in actions aimed at furthering the realization of the right to food. Secondly, local governmental institutions, and non-governmental and community-based organizations need to have adequate capacity and resources to support local level actions. The third necessary condition is an empowered local population. Read more about implementation at district level and examples from the Right to Food Team’s work in Zanzibar.