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Capacity development 

Capacity development is at the heart of FAO mandate and is recognized as one of FAO core functions in the Organization’s Strategic Framework.  It is key to sustainable results at country level and ensures that FAO efforts lead to lasting changes. In FAO view, capacity development is driven by country actors, consistent with national priorities and the local context, and anchored in national systems and local expertise. Capacity development needs to be undertaken in partnership with national, regional and international players and requires long-term interventions rather than stand-alone short-term events.

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, encouraging countries to design and implement national policies that will help reduce poverty (SDG1) and achieve food security (SGD2).

It includes not only the introduction of the human right to food into training activities and education, but strengthening the capacity of the national institutions to improve service delivery at sub-national level and strengthen formulation and implementation of district development plans.

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.

The Right to Food Guidelines, specifically Guideline 11 (“Education and awareness raising”), stresses the importance of education and awareness raising, especially on the right to food and other human rights, as ultimate means to strengthen duty-bearers’ knowledge of their obligations while assisting communities and rights-holders, especially women, girls and children (the most vulnerable), in demanding accountability regarding their rights and strengthening their educational opportunities in terms of access to education. However, the whole Guidelines express the necessity to increase capacity development on a wide range of policy areas in order to build an enabling environment for people to feed themselves in dignity.

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.

Example of work

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.

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