Food and nutrition

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In line with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR), the right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in a community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate, accessible and available food or means for its procurement (General Comment No. 12). For the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, the right to food is the right to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of financial purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensure a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of fear. More specifically, food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (FAO, 2001).

Social protection is one of the policy areas that can contribute to ensuring food security. By ensuring at least a basic level of income security and access to health, social protection systems contribute to different dimensions of food security and nutrition. Especially for highly vulnerable groups of the population, social protection mechanisms contribute to meeting nutritional needs, facilitating access to adequate food, accelerating hunger reduction and increasing levels of human capital, which in turn further improves levels of nutrition, and encourage self-sufficient and independent subsistence for those who are able to work.

Social protection systems can have an impact on the right to adequate food because they address constraints that prevent people from accessing food or procuring it by a variety of means, including a lack of income or income-generating capacity, as well as lack of education, health, productive resources, or opportunities for employment. There are also socially rooted norms and realities such as discrimination and social exclusion that add to the intensity of deprivation of the poor and hungry which requires attention in this context. The Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security foresaw the value of social protection as part of the solution to food insecurity in humanitarian as well as long term development contexts.

A rights-based approach to social protection, ensuring that the considerations about the right to food are incorporated in social protection policies, systems and programmes, especially in contexts where hunger, inadequate nutrition and a lack of food security are pervasive.

 

 

Photo credit: “Understanding nutrition in Rwanda” by CIAT (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).

 

Resources

The Future of Food and Agriculture: trends and challenges

The report sheds some light on the nature of the challenges that agriculture and food systems are facing now and throughout the 21st century, and provides some insights as to what is at stake and what needs to be done. What emerges is that “business as usual” is no longer an option but calls for […]

The Rights to Social Protection and Adequate Food: Human rights‐based frameworks for social protection in the context of realizing the right to food and the need for legal underpinnings

The right to adequate food lies at the heart of the mandate of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). That concept takes into consideration the availability, access and adequacy of food, and that individuals, alone or in community with others, may acquire food through their own production, through purchases with their […]

Realizing the Right to Social Security and the Right to Food (ESS Working Paper No. 51)

This paper identifies conceptual synergies and dissonances between food security and income security. It considers the contribution of mainstream social protection instruments, such as cash transfers, to food security. The paper presents specific food security policies that would strengthen the ability of national social protection floors to address food insecurity. The paper explores the links […]

Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty (The State of Food and Agriculture 2015)

This edition of The State of Food and Agriculture makes the case that social protection measures will help break the cycle of rural poverty and vulnerability, when combined with broader agricultural and rural development measures. This report’s key messages are: Social protection programmes reduce poverty and food insecurity. Effective targeting and adequate transfers are important […]

The Right to Adequate Food (Fact Sheet No. 34)

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), more than one billion people are undernourished. Over two billion suffer from a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in their food. Nearly six million children die every year from malnutrition or related diseases, that is about half of all preventable deaths. The […]

World Food Day Blog

The World Food Day blog’s main objective is to offer a space for the exchange of ideas related to the goal, purpose, design, implementation and assessment of social protection programmes in developing countries. The blog is written by professionals engaged in field and policy work  and aspires to raise awareness of the potential for well-designed […]

From Protection to Production: The Role of Cash Transfer Programmes in Fostering Broad-Based Economic Development in sub-Saharan Africa

This paper explains From Protection to Production (PtoP), a four-year agreement between FAO at DFID to study the impact of cash transfer programmes on household economic decision-making and the local economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Visit the PtoP website here. Visit the PtoP Multimedia page here.

The Impact of Social Cash Transfer Programmes on Community Dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa

This brief describes key findings of a four-year research project, From  Protection to Production (PtoP), which is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with UNICEF. Oxford Policy Management partnered with FAO to design and implement the qualitative field research component. The PtoP project analyzed the impact of social cash transfer programmes […]

Social Protection and Cash Transfer Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Benjamin Davis, team leader of FAO-led From Protection to Production (PtoP) project, explains Social Protection in relation to FAO’s work and mandate. In particular he focuses on impacts of social cash transfers on rural livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa and how these programmes can contribute to broader economic and agriculture development objectives.

Voluntary guidelines to support the right to food

The Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security were adopted by the 127th Session of the FAO Council in November 2004. Link to document

News

FAO Releases the 2015 State of Food and Agriculture

Today, FAO released its annual report, The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA). The theme of this year’s SOFA report is Social Protection and Agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty. The theme comes at a crucial time. September marked the Sustainable Development Summit in New York, where the post-2015 development agenda was agreed upon. […]