Food and nutrition
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).
FAO Social Protection Framework
FAO Social Protection Framework presents the Organization’s vision and approach to social protection. FAO recognizes the critical role social protection plays in furthering and accelerating progress around food security and nutrition, agriculture development, rural poverty and resilience building. Link to French version Link to Spanish version
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.