Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (Foro FSN)

Submitted by: Anna Marry, Senior Global External Affairs Advisor, Brooke

Brooke welcomes this comprehensive and much needed report on reducing inequalities in food security and nutrition. We particularly welcome the inclusion of livestock not simply as animal-source foods, but in their diversity of roles including draught power and income generation, as well as consideration of the gender dimension – all crucial factors in reducing (or driving) inequalities.

Question 2:

Broadening the definition of food security with regards to inequalities is essential and the proposed dimensions (availability, access, utilization, stability, agency and sustainability) cover the broader definition well. However, in our work with livestock-owning communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America we have observed that agency, while important, is often not sufficient. Knowledge and skills are key prerequisites for individuals to exercise agency. With respect to food security, this means knowing what food choices to make, but also being able to adequately care for the livestock that people’s food security depends on. We have seen first-hand that training provided to livestock owners and handlers radically improves the outcomes for both animals and people. We therefore suggest that the definition should include a knowledge and skills aspect.

Questions 6/ 7:

While very comprehensive overall, we believe that the report lacks nuance when it comes to inequalities in livestock. We recommend distinguishing between production (e.g. cattle or poultry) and working animas such as horses, donkeys and mules, since they play different roles with respect to equity and equality in food security and nutrition. The document acknowledges that livestock are not only a source of food, but also draught power and income. This warrants an expansion to explain the very different role various types of livestock play in food security and related inequalities.

Working livestock support food security indirectly, by enabling food production (e.g. as a source of manure, transporting water for crops or other livestock, ploughing fields etc.), but also, crucially, by generating an income that allows families to purchase nutritious food of their choice, as well as pay for other essentials that impact food security indirectly, such as medical bills or school fees.

It is also worth noting that working livestock play a different, particularly vital, role in women’s lives than other livestock, thus impacting gender inequalities. Two thirds of poor livestock keepers (approximately 400 million people worldwide) are women. In our research amongst poor women in four countries, 77% of participants ranked working equids (horses, donkeys or mules) as the most important species of livestock. Women don’t always own the animals, but they benefit from their work and care for them more often than men do. Women use equids for income generation activities, like waste collection or transporting agricultural produce to market. This income acquired by women tends to be spent on food, medical or school bills, directly benefitting the whole family, in particular children. Crucially, unlike other livestock, working animals help women perform heavy and time-consuming tasks that men do not normally do, such as fetching water for crops, other livestock or human consumption and hygiene. In doing so, they liberate women’s time for other tasks and empower them to gain a higher social status in the community.

Yet, almost all women we surveyed lack access to training and access to extension services, which would allow them to better care for and make use of their livestock.

We call on the report drafters to include this important dimension of working livestock and gender, and particularly, to recommend that women are provided with training opportunities and better access to extension services with respect to livestock handling and management.

In sum, Brooke welcomes this important report and calls for the following additions to be made:

  1. Include the distinction between production animals and working livestock due to the different ways they contribution to food security inequalities;
  2. Include a recommendation for better access to training and extension services for women livestock keepers to further reduce the gender dimension of food security inequalities.