Assisting in the development of smallholder farms can help improve the food security of communities.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) have today launched a new report which examines the issues of food security in vulnerable populations. The paper, Reducing the Risks of Food and Nutrition Insecurity among Vulnerable Populations, illustrates the importance of food security and suggests that breaking the cycle of hunger - and building resilience - in affected communities is not impossible.
Dr Shenggen Fan, the president of IFPRI, said the report was an example of the cooperation and commitment needed to overcome the challenges of food insecurity. “Despite some progress over the past two decades, almost 1 billion people worldwide are undernourished,” he said. “Vulnerable populations are particularly susceptible to chronic food insecurity because they lack the ability to ‘bounce back’ from drought or conflicts. Building the resilience of these communities in the longer term is essential to eliminating chronic food insecurity.”
While the problems are complex, the report says, the solutions are within reach, recommending more effective support for smallholders to reduce their vulnerability; the development of national food reserves; and better early warning systems at local and national level so that communities can be better prepared for coming shocks. The paper also calls for better coordination between global donors and those on the ground in areas of crisis, and for international humanitarian agencies to understand the importance of developing long-term solutions rather than trailing communities from crisis to crisis with short-term aid.
Goli Ameri, IFRC Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Diplomacy, said that there was a growing consensus that Africa has the capacity to feed itself and end hunger. “I, too, believe this can be achieved, but some concrete steps must be taken now to get there: better access to finance and insurance, for example – especially for women who make up the majority of small scale food producers – along with improved trade policies at national, regional and continental levels and sustained investment in irrigation agriculture.”