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How much do you know about small island nations?

Here are 7 facts on food security & nutrition in the SIDS

30 Mar 2016

Over the past years, we have often been reminded that we must leave no one behind as we strive to cement our plans for a sustainable future. Most recent data indicate that many of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have achieved undernourishment levels of less than 5 percent. Good governance is perhaps the most essential factor in increasing food security and nutrition in the SIDS and FAO provides support through policy advice, analysis and technical assistance.

Here are seven facts on food security and nutrition in the SIDS and what we are doing to help:

Battling the encroachment of poverty and unemployment

Poverty and unemployment are the main constraints of access to food in SIDS as most of these countries struggle with high levels of poverty. The highest poverty rates are registered in the AIMS Islands with 66.2 percent in São Tomé e Príncipe and 69.3 percent in Guinea-Bissau.

#Comoros: FAO is helping to create stable and remunerative employment for rural people in order to increase income and improve food security. The focus is on the sustainability of peace by promoting youth employment.

Lowering dependency on food imports

In SIDS countries, food imports, as opposed to national food production, are by far the largest source of food. In at least seven countries in the Caribbean, 80 percent or more of available food comes from imports. This is why local production of nutritious food for balanced diets is so important.

#StKitts: A recent FAO project has strengthened the country’s fisheries cooperatives, leading to the adoption of a new legislative agenda and laying a solid basis for a co- management and a sustainable ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF).  As a result, the sector is assuming a more commercial approach to fisheries operations, which ensures that consumer demand is better met in terms of food safety and quality.

Securing access to affordable, diverse and nutritious food

The food consumed in SIDS has been characterized by nutritionally poor food choices. Inadequate dietary habits in most of these islands have been contributing to an increased prevalence of chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes and heart disease. Much of the imported food that is affordable and available is also calorie-dense, high-fat and high in sweeteners.

#Maldives: FAO is working to establish a commercially viable and environmentally sound domestic egg sector that sustainably increases family incomes and improves household food security and nutrition.

Working to provide relief following natural disasters 

Small islands are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events due to changing climate patterns, which undermine efforts to advance food security and nutrition. Over the period 1990–2014, 182 major natural disasters occurred in the Caribbean. In Cuba, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike severely affected several provinces, causing a sharp decrease in levels of food production and availability leading to food insecurity.

#Cuba: FAO’s assistance provided supplies and equipment to restore food production capabilities in the livestock and fisheries sectors in the provinces of Camaguey, Holguin, Las Tunas and Pinar del Rio and tilapia production in the municipality of Isla de la Juventud.

Enhancing agriculture’s resilience to climate change

Climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest countries - particularly Small Island Developing States - where people are most dependent on natural resources. These disproportionate effects undermine local livelihoods that depend heavily on climate-sensitive sectors such as fisheries, tourism and agriculture.

#Jamaica: FAO installed automated weather stations in all major agriculture production areas in the country. Improved weather and climate observations help provide value added services some of which include: location specific weather forecasting, forecasting crop yield and production levels, scheduling of crop planting and irrigation dates, estimation of crop irrigation needs and development of pest and disease management programmes including early warning systems.

Promoting sustainable forestry practices

Forests harbour the vast majority of terrestrial biodiversity in SIDS. This biodiversity is characterized by high levels of endemism and one way to preserve these endemic species is to protect the environment. Papua New Guinea is host to a remarkably diverse number of species and ecosystems. The islands of New Guinea comprise the third largest tropical rainforest estate in the world.

#Papua New Guinea: FAO is working to reverse the ongoing trend of forest degradation through building the capacity of the national forest agency and providing training to forest industry operators and national government staff.

Drawing a road map to good governance

Good governance is perhaps the most essential factor in increasing food security and nutrition in the Small Island Developing States. It is characterized by predictable, enlightened and transparent processes that are ideally cross-cutting, multidisciplinary and multilevel.

#Seychelles: Following the introduction of a public administration and sector reform process in 2009, the Seychelles Government sought support from FAO in assessing the country’s major agricultural institutions, namely the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA). Supported by FAO, a review was carried out to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the two entities and to identify areas that required institutional strengthening to improve their contribution to food security and economic development. 

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