Sustainable Livelihoods for Food Security and Good Nutrition: the Role of Food and Agriculture
Alexander Müller Assistant Director-General, Natural Resources Management and Environment Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you again this morning, and this time I want to emphasise the importance of food security and sustainable livelihoods in our common fight against child hunger and undernutrition. First let me orient you to the work of FAO...
Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's work
FAO's mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy. Achieving food security : working to make sure people have regular access to adequate amounts and variety of good quality and safe foods to lead active, healthy lives And our basic mandate which is inscribed in stone in building A as you walk is – clearly states that our primary objective is to “Raise levels of nutrition and standards of living...”
FAO in Action Putting information within reach
Sharing policy expertise Providing a meeting place for nations Bringing knowledge to the field Putting information within reach - FAO serves as a knowledge network. We use the expertise of our staff - agronomists, foresters, fisheries and livestock specialists, nutritionists, social scientists, economists, statisticians and other professionals - to collect, analyse and disseminate data that aid development. Sharing policy expertise. FAO lends its years of experience to member countries in devising agricultural policy, supporting planning, drafting effective legislation and creating national strategies to achieve rural development and hunger alleviation goals Providing a meeting place for nations. As a neutral forum, FAO provides the setting where rich and poor nations can come together to build common understanding. Bringing knowledge to the field. FAO mobilizes and manages millions of dollars from various sources for field programmes and projects and provides the technical know-how and to make sure the projects achieve their goals. In crisis situations, we work side-by-side with the World Food Programme and other humanitarian agencies to protect rural livelihoods and help people rebuild their lives
“Hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world that has both the knowledge and resources to end this human catastrophe” With that background let me continue with a quotation from the final Declaration of 1992 International Conference on Nutrition: “ Hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world that has both the knowledge and resources to end this human catastrophe.” That same Declaration clearly stated “We recognise that access to nutritionally adequate and safe food is a right of each individual.” A very far reaching statement at that time. So where have these bold statements led? International Conference on Nutrition, 1992
Promises Reduce the number of people hungry by half by 2015 - WFS
Reduce the proportion of people hungry by half by MDG1 In part, they have led to firm commitments arising from both the World Food Summit and the Millennium Summit to reduce poverty and hunger substantially by 2015. It is also worth noting that COMMITMENT TWO of WFS Plan of Action gives strong support to efforts to improve food security and nutrition by stating: “We will implement policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality and improving physical and economic access by all, at all times, to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food and its effective utilization.”
Progress So how are we doing now that it is ten years after the WFS? The answer depends on where you look and what you compare. The fundamental reality is that well over 1 billion people live on less that $1.00 day and more than 850 million people never get enough to eat to meet the basic energy needs. This number of chronically undernourished goes up by untold millions more when those people affected by seasonal or other forms of transient food insecurity are included.
Number of Undernourished People in the Developing World
The result is that the promises made at the World Food Summit and the Millennium Summit may not be reached unless concerted efforts are made to accelerate progress.
But the situation is not all bleak
But the situation is not all bleak. Progress has been made, even if unevenly... Looking at the changes in the proportion of people undernourished – which is the MDG target - gives a somewhat hopeful picture in that progress is being made in many regions, even if at a slow pace.
However, the picture is much different when viewed from the perspective of the actual numbers of hungry people – the WFS goal. While great strides have been made in reducing the absolute number of undernourished in some countries, particularly China, due to their increased economic development, this is tempered by the lack of progress and even setbacks seen in other parts of the world such as eastern and southern Africa.
Child Hunger and Undernutrition
Every year six million children die from malnutrition before they reach five years of age In developing countries one out of every three children has stunted growth and nearly the same percent have low weight for their age The prevalence of stunting and underweight is highest in South Asia, where 44 percent of children are stunted and 46 percent are underweight Emerging from this fundamental tragedy of widespread and persistent poverty and hunger is the appalling situation of extensive child hunger and undernutrition – which is the focus of today’s seminar. Some six million children die each year from malnutrition and approximately one-third of all children in developing countries are stunted and/or underweight Add to this the even more extensive problems of micronutrient deficiencies among children and the situation becomes even more grave Clearly progress in the fight against hunger has been too slow and the catastrophe continues with children receiving most of the burden – (Unicef, State of the World’s children, 2005)
The Way Forward So how do move the process forward? How can we best work together to assure each child their birthright to an adequate amount and variety of food?
The Essential First Step to Sustainable Progress?
Recognising that poor child growth and development are social and economic problems, not just medical and health problems The first step is simply to recognise that child growth and development are social and economic problems, not just medical and health sector problems. If we are to succeed in creating the conditions in which women and children can thrive, then we must set and direct policies and programmes across a number of sectors to address the problems that constrain the ability of people to acquire and utilise the food they need, and that prevent them from living and working in safe, sanitary conditions or receiving the care and social services to which they are entitled.
Reducing Child Hunger and Undernutrition
This is the goal, but child-centred interventions alone will not reach it The reality is that children do not exist in isolation The key to reducing child hunger, therefore, is reducing family hunger The focus must be on strengthening the capacity of families and households to provide the food and care children need This means there must be a fundamental emphasis on ensuring that households are viable social and economic units dedicated to and capable of meeting the needs of children. While secure access to food at the household level is essential, it is not a sufficient condition to assure good child nutrition.
Child growth and development depend on adequate
food health care In summary: In general child growth and development depend on good nutrition which in turn are dependent upon the following conditions: Household Food Security; Adequate Family Care and Feeding Practices; Environmental Sanitation and Access to Health Services The point is: Households are the keys – and a strong commitment to helping households secure sustainable livelihoods is fundamental to making progress in reducing hunger of families and children
Challenges: global and local
Inequity – social and economic Further population growth Extensive rural poverty - accelerated urbanisation – increasing urban poverty Aging of populations Health – HIV/AIDS, other diseases Bio-security risks Changing patterns of consumption and supply Threats to environment Emergencies The challenges to rapid progress are multiple and complex, and include, for example: Social discrimination and economic inequity Population growth – mostly in developing countries Rural poverty - need incomes – must move beyond subsistence Uncontrolled urbanization Changing population dynamics HIV/AIDS Plant and animal health Environmental and sustainability issues
Basic Goal: Create conditions in which households secure the nutritional well-being of all members
Food must be available Live in healthy environments Access to health and social services Income Knowledge Time and opportunity for providing care Motivation
Links to Agriculture Addressing these and many other challenges requires multi-sector action, with strong collaboration at national, district and community levels. Agriculture has an essential role to play and must be fully involved.
SOFI 2006 Strengthening efforts to eradicate hunger
Hunger reduction is necessary for accelerating development and reducing poverty Agriculture growth and rural development are critical for reducing hunger A twin-track approach of pro-poor development coupled with direct action against hunger and malnutrition is required I refer you to this highly informative publication – but now will highlight only three essential lessons: Poverty and hunger are highly interrelated and improvements in one leads to improvements in the other. Lesson: we do not need to and should not wait for poverty reduction to improve hunger and malnutrition Agriculture is central to reducing hunger and poverty – and among most poor populations, underpins both family incomes and community wealth 3. Efforts to target the poor as participants in and to ensure they benefit from development, coupled with safety nets to protect those who cannot care for themselves, constitute the recommended twin-track approach
Agricultural growth and hunger
Agricultural growth and hunger “… the only group of countries to reduce hunger during the 1990s was the group in which the agriculture sector grew.” I must stress this point: agriculture growth and hunger reduction are inextricably linked. Quoting from the 2006 World Food Day information note: “Many studies have shown how agricultural growth reduces poverty and hunger, even more than urban or industrial growth. For example, the only group of countries to reduce hunger during the 1990s was the group in which the agriculture sector grew..”
Agricultural growth and hunger
Agricultural growth and hunger “Looking back at the figures for the last 30 years, it can be shown that those countries that have invested and continue to invest most in agriculture – both public and private – now experience the lowest levels of undernourishment.” Continuing the quotation: “ Looking back at the figures for the last 30 years, it can be shown that those countries that have invested and continue to invest most in agriculture – both public and private – now experience the lowest levels of undernourishment.”
Foreign Aid for Agriculture Over the past 20 years, it has fallen dramatically – from over US$9 billion per year in the early 1980s to less than US$5 billion in the late 1990s. And yet foreign aid for agriculture has fallen dramatically from over $ 9 billion to less than $5 billion … this must change
Only investment in agriculture – together with support for education and health – will turn this situation around. However, it is not foreign aid or even public sector investment that will change the situation. The real driver will be private sector investment, but this will only occur with appropriate public sector support and encouragement.
Towards an effective policy agenda for reducing family and child hunger
Focus on the poor and on creating sustainable livelihoods Enhance productivity of smallholder agriculture Stimulate private-sector investment Protect the environment Make trade work for the poor Invest in agriculture The priority elements of an effective policy agenda for reducing family and child hunger commonly include: Focus on the poor and creating sustainable livelihoods Enhance productivity of smallholder agriculture Stimulate private-sector investment Protect the environment Make trade work for the poor Invest in agriculture
Investing in Nutrition
Taken together, these policy guidelines also contribute to Investing in Nutrition. This leads to “people-centred development” which promotes agriculture development that in addition to focussing on productivity, food availability and incomes, also aims to expand and sustain people’s ability to acquire and utilize the amount and variety of good quality and safe food and other basic necessities required to be active and healthy.
Improve Livelihoods and Access to Food
Production Incomes on-farm off-farm Essential needs This approach aims to improve livelihoods and household food security ..
Improve food supplies in poor areas
Quantity Quality Variety Availability Expand and diversify the availability of affordable foods in local markets in both rural and poor urban areas
Improve Care and Feeding Practices
Knowledge Time and Opportunity Attitude and Motivation Improve family care and feeding practices. Education, especially of girls, is of paramount importance. But improving child care and feeding requires more than education and knowledge. Time and opportunity, along with the attitudes and motivation of caregivers and household heads are also key.
Improve Health Conditions
Contaminated food and water constitute serious risks to the nutritional well-being of children and sanitary conditions must be improved.
Improve the Status and Capabilities of Women
“ Improve the status and welfare of women” is one of the most important principles that should guide our efforts. While appreciating the importance of the mother-child relationship, we must be careful not to just look at women as wombs. A rights-based approach to dealing with women’s issues requires that the nutritional and health needs of each woman must be secured for her own right. This requires looking at all the factors that affect a woman’s ability to acquire and utilise food sufficient for herself and her family. It also means looking at those factors that affect her nutrient requirements and her health status, including her mental and emotional health.
How can we work together to end malnutrition?
Develop and apply a common goal and vision Support integrated approaches at local level Create conditions in which poor can participate in and benefit from development Design and monitor impact of pro-poor macro and sector policies Utilize macro-micro linkages So how can the Agencies actually work more effectively together? Common goal and vision - at global and local levels – of the causes of child hunger and undernutrition and what can be done Expand productive activities for increasing income and food availability with other sector interventions, i.e. link agriculture with health and social services Promote participatory development and Improve status of women and socially disadvantaged Develop capacity for joint action Design, target and monitor interventions carefully Aim for policy and programme convergence at national and local levels: put people first - focus on poor
Reviewing the food chain with a nutrition lens
Adequacy of supply in local markets Income opportunities Processing for better nutrition Marketing/supply Food safety One tool for achieving a common vision is a Nutrition Lens. Application of such a Nutrition Lens can help identify likely impacts of various policies and programmes on nutritional well-being. Reviewing agriculture and other sectoral interventions through such a Lens can identify risk and potential benefits to nutrition. For example one might check: Adequacy of food supplies in local markets year round amounts and variety Income opportunities – adding value along food chain Processing for better nutrition prolonged shelf-life (HH consumption & marketing) complementary foods ready-to-use foods Marketing/supply: local markets need attention rural-urban linkages regional integration and trade Food safety
Promote Rights-based Approaches
Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security Salute UNICEF pioneering work: Convention on the Rights of the Child And now the Voluntary Guidelines provide a framework for that we can all promote as we seek to direct resources to meeting the food and nutrition needs of the most vulnerable
FAO and the SCN Eager to cooperate through Task Forces:
Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships Assessment, monitoring and evaluation Integrated approaches at country level We look forward to working actively in these three task forces, and expect them to serve as effective fora for promoting interagency thinking and action at both global and national levels:
Contribution to Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships Task force
International Alliance Against Hunger Communication for development Knowledge management IAAH: to generate political will and to coordinate practical action to fight hunger and poverty through partnerships Communication for development: “Giving people a voice rather than a message” Knowledge Management: World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT): Intensified knowledge sharing between FAO and its partners: Informal exchanges via discussion groups, blogs, wikis Further development of FAO’s Knowledge Forum ( : Ask FAO Best Practices Thematic Knowledge Networks
Contribution to Assessment, Monitoring, Evaluation Task Force
Reliable and timely food security and nutrition information is essential for effectively addressing hunger and malnutrition Strengthening food security and vulnerability analysis under FIVIMS FAO aims to: Strengthen food security and vulnerability analysis under FIVIMS at global and country levels Work with governments and development partners towards increased understanding of characteristics and underlying causes of food insecurity and vulnerability
Contribution to Integrated Approaches at Country Level Task Force
Closer cooperation among UN Agencies is imperative – “Delivering as One” Government ownership is essential Respond to needs and demand, build on existing efforts Move away from project and donor/supply-driven approaches Primary FAO contribution: Support for National Programmes for Food Security (NPFS) FAO aims to ensure: Closer cooperation among UN Agencies is imperative – “Delivering as One” Government ownership Respond to needs and demand, build on existing efforts Efforts move away from project and donor/supply-driven approaches Primary FAO contribution: Support for National Programmes
National Programmes for Food Security (NPFS)
Primary vehicle for FAO support to Member Countries Focus on MDG-1 and WFS target of halving hunger by 2015 Nationally owned programmes Major commitment of national resources e.g. Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Pakistan, Cambodia, Indonesia Strategic focus: availability and access issues of food security collaboration with other sectors for maximal impact on nutrition Operational focus on low-cost, large-scale service delivery to the poor e.g. Brasil 84 million people, Nigeria 6 million NPFS provides national platform for bringing sectors and stakeholders together around MDG-1 Technical support from FAO and South-South Cooperation
Working together: the only solution
Common objectives Common targets Complementary Approaches and Actions Working together: the only solution Food and nutrition security and sustainable livelihoods are challenges requiring a cross-sectoral approach to development Sustainable development can only be achieved if social, economic and ecological approaches go hand in hand MDG process requires cooperation
FAO’s Country-level Mission
Support to National Programmes for Food Security Provide policy advice and technical support (training, technical assistance, knowledge management) to actors at country level Foster FAO/IFAD/WFP collaboration through country theme groups Seek opportunities to cooperate with other partners FAO’s Country-level Mission Support to National Programmes for Food Security Provide policy advice and technical support (training, technical assistance, knowledge management) to actors at country level government/municipalities partners institutions (including NGOs) Foster FAO/IFAD/WFP partnership through country theme groups
Ending Child Hunger and Undernutrition Initiative (ECHUI)
A welcome, timely initiative FAO commits itself to play an active role Thank WFP and UNICEF to have initiated the process. A welcome and timely initiative presenting opportunity to focus attention and resources meeting MDGs. FAO is ready to participate actively and will pursue high-level contacts to explore how best we can do so.
“Hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world that has both the knowledge and resources to end this human catastrophe” I now return to this earlier slide. We take this very seriously, and challenge each of the Organizations and individuals here today to also take this seriously. We must refuse to accept what is unacceptable, we must stop tolerating the intolerable. If we rise together we can put an end to child hunger and undernutrition, and not only meet the goals set before us, but more importantly, we will have succeeded in protecting and promoting the welfare of each child. International Conference on Nutrition, 1992
Together, we can make a difference
We have covered a lot of ground in this presentation. But these children represent what we all want – a healthy, happy population. Click And by working together , we can achieve it.
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