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Rights-Based Approaches to Food Poverty and Food Insecurity in Ireland and the UK Dr. Deirdre O Connor University College Dublin, Ireland 7 th November.

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Presentation on theme: "Rights-Based Approaches to Food Poverty and Food Insecurity in Ireland and the UK Dr. Deirdre O Connor University College Dublin, Ireland 7 th November."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rights-Based Approaches to Food Poverty and Food Insecurity in Ireland and the UK Dr. Deirdre O Connor University College Dublin, Ireland 7 th November 2012

2 Overview Brief outline of current context for food poverty in Ireland Evidence of Food Poverty in Ireland Actual and potential responses to Food Poverty in Ireland: - “downstream” to “upstream”, - potential of rights-based approaches.

3 Current Context for Food Poverty in Ireland For our purposes food poverty defined as “the inability to consume an adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so” (Dowler et al., 2001) Wider context of ongoing recession (since 2008) EU/IMF “bailout” since 2010 Unemployment continuing to rise – currently at 14.9% “Adjustment measures” since cuts in social welfare payment rates and changes to criteria, taxation increases, expenditure cuts across all Govt. Depts – including health; education; social services.

4 Evidence of Food Poverty in Ireland Poverty in Ireland measured through income and deprivation indicators Income measure – at risk of poverty – below 60% of medium income (2010, 15.8%) Deprivation measure – experience 2 out of 11 deprivation items (2010, 22.7%) Consistent poverty – below 60% of medium income and experience 2 out of 11 deprivation items (2010, 6.2%)

5 Evidence of Food Poverty in Ireland Deprivation Indicators that are food related: Inability to afford a meal with meat (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day Inability to afford a roast (or vegetarian equivalent) once a week Inability to afford to have family or friends for a meal or drink once a month No substantial meal in one day over the last fortnight due to lack of money

6 Evidence of Food Poverty in Ireland Based on these indicators, recent estimates show 10.3% of population in Ireland experiencing food poverty. More prevalent among “Younger” and “Larger” households; unemployed; those will illness/disability; poor health status; low incomes and those experiencing other forms of deprivation

7 Evidence of Food Poverty in Ireland Builds on existing studies which point to inadequate levels of income/welfare to support “healthy eating” Role/importance of access to low-cost outlets in determining the cost of healthy eating

8 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland Distinction between “downstream” and “upstream” approaches in addressing food poverty Downstream approaches - focused on behavioural change, individual responsibility, skills, information, direct provision Upstream approaches – focused on structural issues – income/welfare adequacy, access/planning issues;

9 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland Locates issue in a wider policy framework – tackling poverty; social exclusion, health inequalities; human rights In Ireland, few examples of such upstream/policy-led interventions – arguably addressed through measures such as school food provision, or “naming” of issue in policy arenas such as nutrition, taskforce on obesity, developing a food poverty indicator Issues of income/welfare adequacy – negative developments, more so since Increased indirect taxation, reduced social welfare benefits – particularly families with children

10 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland As elsewhere, community/voluntary/local responses to food poverty dominate in Ireland (with Catholic Church agencies featuring prominently). Mixed views – imperative to fill the “void” left by State actors; enabling participation and inclusion of marginalised groups; gateway to addressing issues of poverty/social exclusion; But, simultaneously enabling the State to “look the other way”; depoliticising issue of food poverty; proxy delivery of State services.

11 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland Some emerging “hybrid” responses in Ireland – attempting to influence policy agenda while also engaged in/supporting local/community-based interventions. “Hybrid Responses” – aimed at influencing policy agenda while supporting/engaging with community/voluntary interventions. Example of Healthy Food for All Initiative – multi-agency initiative established Attempts to work at policy and advocacy level; support in community food initiatives and acting as a network Funders/members include Govt. Depts; State agencies; community/voluntary interests; academics/researchers from Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

12 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland Community-focused activities including good practice guides on school food and community food initiatives; programme of support for community food initiatives (with external funding) Supporting networking activities among practitioners/policy community; forum for exchange on activities; research; practices etc. At policy/advocacy level, activities include submissions into relevant national and international fora; engagement with policy community; commissioning of research;

13 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland Potential for using rights-based approaches to food poverty in Ireland… Right to Food housed within UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Part of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) - under Article 11 – “right to an adequate standard of living”.

14 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland UN Committee on ESCR says States required to respect, protect, fulfil food rights; Means that – State should take measures to ensure individuals or enterprises (including corporate actors) do not deprive people of access – State should strengthen people’s access to resources to ensure their means to a livelihood and food security

15 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland Relevance/Usefulness to Addressing Food Poverty in Ireland? Feedback from community/voluntary actors suggest: View of Rights-Based Approaches (RBA) as a “double edged sword” Empowering – but also potentially divisive and combative Can be used to attract new to build alliances between groups; galvanise co-ordination in activities and advocacy.

16 Responses to Food Poverty in Ireland Problem in “convincing” the State to embrace the language of rights Relatively few examples of food rights-based approaches exist as models - with the exception of FIAN (FoodFirst Information and Action Network) who work closely with UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Not food related, the Participation and Practice of Rights (PPR) project in Northern Ireland has been active with local communities in developing indicators and benchmarks to track progress on the realisation of rights to health and housing

17 Concluding Remarks In summary, familiar picture of food poverty interventions in Ireland - fractured response by State in the context of ongoing austerity; Some prospects offered by emerging “hybrid” responses in Ireland – attempting to influence policy agenda while also engaged in/supporting local/community-based interventions.


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