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South Asian Dialogue on the Right to Food successfully concluded in Dhaka

News - 25.11.2015

Dhaka – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with Oxfam, concluded today the South Asian Dialogue on the Right to Food, an event jointly organized which called for the participation of a multistakeholders platform with members from government, national Right to Food networks of civil society organizations and movements, academia and think tanks, Oxfam and FAO, from four countries in the region India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. FAO and Oxfam say it will promote an emerging right to food community of practice for improved food security in South Asia.

The Dialogue benefited from the participation of 40 international and national guests. Over the three day of exchanges and discussions, the group highlighted achievements, challenges and opportunities to promote an emerging right to food community of practice for improved food security and nutrition in South Asia. Ms. Mushfeka Ikfat, Honorable Secretary of the Ministry of Food in Bangladesh, closed the welcome session of the Dialogue stressing the importance of such event, highlighting current progress and challenges related to the right to food in Bangladesh while sharing her enthusiasm for such initiative.

The event allowed for a reflection over issues related to global, regional and national standards, policy processes and relevant thematic areas which could serve as entry-points for further action and strengthened commitment on the right to food at national level. Through evidence, experience sharing and best practices, it was possible to draw parallelism and learn from each participating country expert.

The Dialogue showed that challenges to progressively realize the right to food, and therefore opportunities to contribute to a more enabling environment to fight hunger and malnutrition in the sub-region, are complex and multi-faceted:

  • Poor policy implementation, coherence and harmonization;
  • Insufficient allocation of resources, inefficient targeting of beneficiaries and exclusion of specific groups of social protection schemes and safety nets are obstacles to ensure effectiveness and sustainability;
  • Weak tenure rights, especially in regards to customary tenure, and land-grabbing by national or multinational actors;
  • Lack of proper information channels to inform and increase general awareness on this human right avoiding common misconceptions;
  • Insufficient coordination among stakeholders for more integrated action both at national and regional level;
  • Weak monitoring and redress mechanisms.

group photo

The Dialogue concluded with an explicit commitment from all participants to continue working on the right to food and an agreement on the added value of a community of practice on the right to food in South Asia. The representatives of civil society movements present at the Dialogue agreed to work towards a twofold objective to both strengthening national level advocacy, coherence and coordination, whilst begin to systematically and increasingly engage at the regional level, acknowledged to provide a platform to learn from each other, address national and cross-border issues, and reinforce existing positive aspects of regional cooperation. The participants informed about the next meeting where civil society of South Asia will come together to discuss right to food matters to be held in Calcutta on 16-17 of February 2016.

FAO supports the implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines at country level and ad hoc action to promote better regional coordination and coherence for the promotion of the right to food. In particular, with the support of the Government of Norway, FAO assists the Government of Nepal to promote, protect and monitor human rights in programmes, policies and legislation on food security and right to food since 2012.

Oxfam’s GROW campaign builds on the premise that hunger and undernourishment can be ended globally and builds mainstream public awareness through Oxfam advocacy with alliances and networks to influence governments, international institutions and companies.

A full report and list of commitments will be available soon.


Photos: ©Oxfam

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