Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Dr. James Mawanda

Organization: Foundation for Climate Health Solutions
Country: Uganda
I am working on:

I am working on the multifaceted yet complex problems faced by communities as a result of the climate health nexus, particularly in the developing world.

James Mawanda is accredited with the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction (EFDRR), and UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2022) and a Member of the UNDRR Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism. James is an Associate Partner, at the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change and Health (ICCH), University of Hamburg, Germany. Member, Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education, Columbia University. Also, a Mentor, International Network for Government Science Advice, Africa Chapter (INGSA-Africa), South Africa, and Mentor, Land Accelerator Africa by World Resources Institute (WRI), A Research Associate, Uganda Red Cross Society. James is a member of the Research4life User Group. He is also a Country Expert (Uganda & Rwanda) for Varieties of Democracy (V-DEM), University of Gothenburg, Sweden, since 2020. An Executive Director of African Forum for International Relations in Research and Development (AFIRRD). A member of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) & United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). James holds a Ph.D. in Diplomacy & International Affairs. James’ research interests span; International Organizations (IOs), particularly their conceptual prescriptions to the developing world; non-government organizations (NGOs) and their socio-political work in the developing world; and global climate policy and health dynamics, diplomacy and negotiations. He is an International Research and Project Assistant, EUCLID University, An Editorial Board Member, International Peer-Reviewed Journals and Books (IPRJB), USA. He is a reviewer at Global Council for Science and the Environment (GCSE), Washington DC; and VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Non-profit Organizations. Also an External Expert, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), Brussels | Belgium; Uganda’s “ambassador” on The Council on Educational Standards and Accountability in Africa; Member, Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development Phase II (PAEPARD II); Human Development & Capability Association (HDCA)- HDCA Southern African Network; Member, Africa Community of Practice (CoP) on Forgotten / Underutilized Food, by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA); Member, FAO’s Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum).

 

This member contributed to:

    • The right to food has been recognized since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as part of the right to an adequate standard of living and is also enshrined in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. From the above observation(s), the right to feed oneself in dignity and continuously violated once there is not enough supply of food and the right nutritional content. What could be added is the mechanism to monitor, evaluate and strengthen these rights within the confines of the sovereign boundaries according to international agreements and obligations.

       

      According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, several countries have developed and implemented constitutional amendments, national laws, strategies, policies, and programs over the last decades to fulfill all rights to food. Thus, every man, woman, and child should be free of hunger and able to sustainably develop their physical and mental faculties. However, these rights fall short of the desired standards for various reasons, such as global economic constraints severed by problems such as pandemics, wars, and climate change. As a result, hundreds of millions remain chronically hungry, and famines persist worldwide.

      Ultimately, food-insecure communities are prone to public health problems, particularly those resulting from malnutrition. On the other hand, food insecurity also breeds other issues, such as societal discomfort and disorders, conflict and insecurity, infectious diseases, poverty, and immigration matters.

      As FAO rightly puts it, hunger and malnutrition can be eradicated in our lifetime. The following can be done:

      1. In addition to access to food as enshrined in the Conventions, the need to reinforce these rights should be bolstered by the availability of concrete and evidence-based data to inform global policies regarding food production, distribution, and end-use.
      2. Food policies should be bolstered with substantial monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess how effectively global policies are implemented and whether gaps exist between the planned and achieved results.
      3. International partnerships and collaborations are essential to aid resource mobilization, foster interdisciplinary approaches, and share knowledge, skills, and experiences, for food problems in the contemporary world are intersectoral in context and content.

      Thanks to FAO, which has partnerships with the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and others.

       



    • The need for FAO and possibly any other UN agency, particularly those engaged in the UN development agenda, has been long overdue. Indeed, this call for contribution is timely, relevant, and appropriate, especially as we strive towards the Agenda 2030. I would take advantage of every opportunity to contribute; thus, my view is below.

      One of the best ways FAO can engage and interact better with civil society is by being transparent, honest, and consistent in the communication and actions with these organizations. Remember, civil societies are more often grassroots conduits, making them more acceptable in the communities, which makes even their efforts more percolative in the communities they operate. Civil societies are more sensitive to the consciousness of the communities than any other stakeholder in the development chain of players. In any case, any development agenda FAO wants to pass on to the final benefit (which in most cases is the community) should be clear, transparent, and concisely communicated to civil society. 

      FAO should also, more often than not, seek the input of civil society and, if possible, embed these ideas (mostly local-based) in the general development agenda. Usually, FAO’s plan is global in content and context. However, these should be somehow decentralized to fit the particular community of beneficiaries and avoid a one-shoe-all scenario. By taking this approach, FAO is cementing a long-lasting appreciation and recognition of the work of civil societies and their achievements and acknowledging their challenges and concerns within the UN food agency’s global and always complex development agenda.

    • Barriers

      The level of literacy

      According to the UN Statistics Division, disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes are found across regions, and sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Central and Southern Asia lag. As a result, many students need more preparation to participate in a highly complex global economy. Whereas there could be other reasons, the reason mentioned above partly explains the low knowledge and policy uptake levels, particularly at the grassroots level. For instance, the new policies on the new ways of agriculture practices that would boost production, and cater to the ever-increasing population estimated at 8 billion people, are sometimes not taken up because the communities need help understanding and interpreting these new ways of doing things. For example, the new forms of agriculture practice require adopting climate-smart agriculture (CSA), an integrated approach to managing landscapes, cropland, livestock, forests, and fisheries that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. The World Bank argues the CSA systematically considers the synergies and trade-offs between productivity, adaptation, and mitigation. Finally, CSA aims to capture new funding opportunities to close the deficit in investment. FAO adds that radical changes may be needed to adapt to new climate conditions, such as shifting to an entirely different agricultural production system.

      Low levels of technology uptake

      The modern world is so interconnected and enhanced by technology. Most of the new knowledge and policy documents are more available online than on paper. However, such technology is not much established, particularly in the developing world where knowledge is so much needed. This creates a gap in knowledge sharing and policy. African Development Bank (AfDB) particularly points at poor technological capability as one of the significant constraints to Africa’s efforts to achieve sustainable development. The Bank thus argues that African governments and all national actors must grasp the increasing opportunities that technology and innovation offer for human development and transformation of the continent. In its Status of digital agriculture in 47 sub-Saharan African countries (2022), FAO also argues digitalization is fundamental to leveraging the benefits of digital technologies in transforming societies, improving livelihoods, and accelerating the ability of the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate poverty.

      Opportunities

      collaborations and partnerships

      In the contemporary world, nations need each other more than before to foster a concerted effort toward development challenges that appear to transcend national boundaries. Because most national development goals align with regional and global development agendas such as the SDGs, these collaborations and partnerships appear more critical than ever to bolster and amplify knowledge and policy sharing. International collaborations and partnerships have been cited as the primary multi-stakeholder vehicle for driving development effectiveness to maximize the effectiveness of all forms of cooperation for the shared benefits of people, the planet, prosperity, and peace. According to the UN SDGs, a successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national, and local levels, built upon principles and values, and a shared vision and goals placing people and the planet at the center. It adds that solid international cooperation is needed now more than ever to ensure that countries have the means to recover from the pandemic, build back better and achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

       

       

    •  

      I will start with barriers:

      1. One of the most significant barriers is the need for vital interest by authorities to acquire knowledge and skills to inform policy. This scenario is particularly evident in developing economies where every policy implementation is viewed through a political lens, as those in the offices question how an apparent policy enhances their political chances. 
      2. The second barrier is the need for sufficient funding for such policies to be rolled out. Developing countries usually depend heavily on external financing. However, this funding is sometimes inadequate. In other instances, this funding is delayed because of various reasons on the funder's side. Moreover, such funding in recent times has been affected by such occurrences as the coronavirus, Russia-Ukraine War, and climate change, which all have been destructive to the global economy.
      3. Some policies appear good from a global perspective but need a robust campaign, lobbying, and negotiations to boost uptake in the developing world, followed by financial, technical, and other logistical support. For example, it is a commonplace that climate change is real and poses a substantial risk to human existence. However, in the developing world, this is taken as a hoax, or something unreal, particularly at the grassroots. Changing this outlook needs a more aggressive approach to inform the communities of the apparent danger, which is different now.

      Opportunities:

      1. The world is substantially interconnected thanks to the technology that has enhanced this connectivity. Social media, radio, TV, and other channels should all be used to influence knowledge uptake and policy design and implementation. It is easy to learn of the tsunami or tornado which has hit the US in a matter of hours, floods that have hit Germany and other countries in the EU, or floods in Madagascar in a matter of hours.
      2. Research indicates that the global literacy rate currently stands at 87%, up from 12% in 1820. Most developed countries have achieved a 99% literacy rate. In the developing world, such as Africa, in 2021, 67.4 percent of people aged 15 years and above in Africa were able to read and write a simple statement and understand it. Given these facts, this should be an opportunity for policymakers and knowledge creators to inform the communities of the policies and knowledge as and when the need arises.
      3. "From promoting the development of democratic institutions to establishing peace between warring nations, the UN supports economic and social development and the promotion and protection of human rights." Thus, the UN and its specialized agencies should be given more powers and mandates to promote peace and security, particularly in developing regions like Africa, where peace and security are still contentious issues. In most countries where the two still need to be included, policymaking and implementation are stagnant, whereas knowledge creation and uptake are stalled.

       

    • This topic is timely, especially as the world faces a dilemma of climate change and Agenda 2030. Development partners and other stakeholders have recently raised funds to support various projects, particularly in the agribusiness sector. It is a commonplace that this sector needs substantial financial and other logistical support. A large part of the population, particularly in the developing world, depends on the industry for survival. However, all the efforts mentioned above are bound to fail for the following reasons:

      1. The resources raised are never enough to equal the challenges facing the agribusiness sector;

      2. In the case of the developing world, the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are ineffective. In other words, the value-for-money is always never achieved;

      3. The socio-political setup in most developing regions dictates the direction of the funding opportunities, which in most cases fall into the political other than socio-economic objectives;

      4. Lastly, most developing partners wish to deal or transact business with the central government other than with other stakeholders such as NGOs, multilateral corporations, and other stakeholders.

      This commentary highlights that, given the above, the agribusiness sector suffocates as it has to depend on the investment interests of the central authorities substantially. Thus, there is an urgent need to rethink the traditional approaches by the development partners such as FAO to diversify their policies, for instance, to start engaging with other players. This will substantially enhance the agility of investments in agribusiness and other sectors that the communities in the developing countries highly depend on for basic needs. At the same time, involving different stakeholders can bolster the agribusiness sector at the community level by supporting such businesses at that level other than starting at the national level, where bureaucracy tends to pull down the decision-making processes. Lastly, the need to invest more in capacity building at the local level is critical for an effective paradigm shift. 

    • Identifying an effective and efficient mechanism to boost the investments in agribusiness, particularly in the developing world, is one of the daunting tasks development partners, the international community, and other stakeholders face in the contemporary world. First of all, authorities find it challenging to invest in this sector given the low yields in terms of forex earnings. Secondly, development partners face difficulties raising such money needed to boost agribusiness, especially with such a multitude of problems as the coronavirus, climate change, and refugee problems compounded by the Russia-Ukraine War. Amidst such issues, the discussion of finding a matching approach to channel remittances into sustainable agribusiness investments is timely and relevant. Below are my suggestions;



      1. Increase investment partnerships, for instance, FAO partners with World Bank, IMF, Green Climate Fund (GCF), and the local authorities in the host country. In this way, a consolidated fund aimed at agribusiness can be created, which bolsters the sector;



      2. Digitalize these programs for better data capture, and avoid duplication of data both at the grassroots, implementation, and policy levels;



      3. Diversify the entry-points into the agribusiness investments. For instance, most donor countries prefer to transact with the central governments. However, with the excessive bureaucracy associated with these authorities, the policy and implementation programs are constantly delayed, if not abandoned altogether, making the programs' final beneficially suffer. Thus, development partners should create a corridor of dealing with other stakeholders such as NGOs, who are directly involved in such development activities. Noteworthy, particularly in the developing world, this might be problematic as the central governments sometimes find it difficult for such other entities to receive external funding. It is a commonplace that many NGOs and other civil society organizations have had their activities terminated in most developing countries, particularly those whose democracy is debatable. 



      All said, the debate continues, however, the global policy dynamics also play a pivotal role, and there is a need for continued bargaining and negotiations, as some of this funding at times does not come in time as required. On the other hand, the requested funding will come less than requested. 

       

    • Studies increasingly indicate that women play a vital role in promoting food security through their active participation in the production and looking after farmland as they participate in all aspects of rural life. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), ‘despite the significant roles and responsibilities that women assume and are ascribed in food systems, in ensuring food security and nutrition at household, community, national and transnational levels, they face a systemic disadvantage in accessing productive resources, services, and information.’ By enshrining gender issues in the draft roadmap, UNDP is on the right track.



      Thus, women own less land, have limited ability to hire labor, and have impeded access to credit, extension, and other services. Women farmers cultivate smaller plots and less profitable crops than male farmers. This not only relegates women to undesirable levels but also puts the socio-political and economic affairs of the communities under jeopardy. Essentially, food security, which is defined as the availability and the access of food to all people, whereas nutrition security demands the intake of a wide range of foods that provides the essential needed nutrients, is also thrown into disarray. Given the gender inequalities along the entire food production chain, that is, from farm to plate, all but impede the attainment of food and nutritional security. Besides, gender inequalities in access to productive resources such as land, labor, fertilizer, credit, technology, extension, and markets) for example, it can negatively affect food availability. 



      Thus, streamlining gender issues and increasing women in the food production and supply chain will dramatically help to enhance the productivity and consecutively the production of food. On the other hand, it can also assist in providing opportunities for income generation. It generally includes improving nutritional advice through home economics programs and enhancing the quality of rural life through community development. As World Food Program (WFP) has put it, the economic empowerment of rural women as farmers, entrepreneurs, and leaders contributes to alleviating poverty, increasing food security, and achieving gender equality. 



      It is safe to state that gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment in the context of food security and nutrition will bolster the achievement of SDGs, particularly such as Goal 1:No Poverty, Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being.