G20 Foundation Publications Australia 2014 - Page 94

94 F O O D , A G R I C U LT U R E & W A T E R F O O D , A G R I C U LT U R E & W A T E R Improving food security and nutrition governance José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) We can end hunger for all. And because we can end hunger for all, we must end hunger for all Some 60 developing countries have reduced the proportion of their populations experiencing chronic hunger by half or brought it to under 5 percent, meeting or exceeding international goals. Based on this evidence, there is a growing consensus that, with better food security and nutrition governance and comprehensive approaches, hunger can be dramatically reduced – even in very poor countries. climatic shocks. It ensures the hungry themselves are heard when programs are designed and put into motion; it enhances accountability; and it distributes the burden of implementation. Great care must be taken in drawing lessons from different countries, but experience shows that three types of political initiatives have been crucial to sustain progress on food security and nutrition. Looking at how different countries are responding to the food security challenges they face, three main areas of action emerge: social protection; raising productivity and net incomes of small-scale agricultural producers; and using special instruments to address nutritional deficiencies in mothers and children under five years old. First, political commitment at the highest level is the necessary condition for successful national initiatives to reduce hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. It is needed to make the issue a government-wide priority and to address governance bottlenecks inhibiting progress. Second, broad social participation is needed to sustain these efforts, even in the face of changes of government, limited budgets and socio-economic and Third, ending hunger and malnutrition requires a large-scale, comprehensive approach, linking macro-economic, social, health, sanitation, environmental, agricultural and education policies. Investing in food security is a small price to pay for something that not only is an ethical imperative but also brings benefits to society as a whole in the form of healthier, more productive citizens and by triggering other development dynamics. Social protection measures for the poor are key. When integrated with rural and agricultural development policies as well as special nutrition initiatives, impressive results often follow. It is important to remember that three quarters of the world’s very poor live in rural areas, and many are themselves producers of food. Boosting the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers, herders and fisher folk, while promoting diversification and more sustainable practices, can reduce rural malnutrition by improving the availability and quality of food, and by raising producers’ purchasing power. To do so requires public and private investments to increase producers’ access to land, financing, productive assets and technology, as well as input and output markets adding Other nutrition-enhancing interventions may be required, including judicious nutrient supplementation and improvements in sanitation, hygiene, nutrition education, and access to health care. To prevent stunting and other forms of severe undernutrition, it is necessary to focus on measures to address nutrition deficiencies afflicting nutritionally vulnerable households and particularly the mothers and children less than five years of age to break the vicious circle that perpetuates extreme poverty and hunger across generations. These types of interventions are most powerful when used in combination. For example, school meal programmes can be designed to procure safe and nutritious food from smallholder farmer cooperatives. This, in turn, raises producer incomes while stimulating the local supply of more diverse, nutritious and safe foods by small farmers. Cash and in-kind transfers and other forms of social protection that raise incomes and improve diets also have positive spill-over effects, such as increasing local wages, and can enhance small producers’ accumulation of productive resources, thereby stimulating production and productivity increases, both on- and off-farm. Experiences in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ghana, Thailand and Vietnam, to name only a few, demonstrate that the most effective approaches to ending hunger have included most, if not all, of the measures listed above. When combined with appropriate public investments, they have yielded spectacular results for the undernourished, and for all of society. The international community has an important role to play in enabling and supporting national efforts – in the identification and evaluation of policy options, in the design of effective social protection, trade policy assessment and vulnerability and resilience analysis, as well as in developing measures to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability. This seems like a demanding agenda, but as country aft