The right to food
The right to food is defined by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (Lidija Knuth and Margret Vidar, 2001.) As 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 ensures a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of fear.
The concept of the right to food is not new. The right to food has been formally recognized since the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Nevertheless in a time of plenty, an estimated 800 million people (Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, 2004.), primarily in developing countries, are undernourished and food insecure. More disturbingly, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that the number of undernourished people in developing countries is no longer falling rather, it is climbing.
Right to adequate food confers an obligation on states to respect, protect, and fulfill that right. This means that states should not adopt measures that could ultimately prevent access to adequate food, that they should adopt measures to ensure that no individuals are deprived of their access to adequate food, and that they should proactively engage in activities to strengthen people’s access to and use of resources, including means to ensure their livelihood and food security. This last obligation can be met through policies and programs such as microcredit, incentives to the private sector to create jobs, and effective implementation of labor laws and agrarian reform that create economic opportunities for those who are vulnerable and food insecure.
Whenever an individual or group is unable, for reasons beyond their control, to obtain adequate food through the means at their disposal, states have the obligation to fulfill that right directly. Importantly, this obligation also applies to persons who are victims of natural or other disasters. In 2004, governments at the FAO adopted a set of ‘Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security’ (FAO, 2005). These guidelines aim ‘to provide practical guidance to States in their implementation of the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, in order to achieve the goals of the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit’. Voluntary Guidelines aim to guarantee the availability of food in quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals; physical and economic accessibility for everyone, including vulnerable groups, to adequate food, free from unsafe substances and acceptable within a given culture; or the means of its procurement.
According to charlotte machlain-nhlapo (2004) , the premise of a rights-based approach to ensuring adequate food is empowering poor people and those who are food insecure. Empowerment is integral to any strategy that moves away from the benevolence model of food aid and instead emphasizes enabling environments that support people in feeding themselves. Empowerment also removes the full burden of providing food from states. Nevertheless, as previously stated, in the event that people are unable to feed themselves (because of household shocks or other circumstances), the state must accept the responsibility to assist, whether through social safety nets or other programs and policies that protect vulnerable people from hunger.
According to a currently accepted definition (Lioba Weingärtner, 2004), ‘Food Security’ is achieved when it is ensured that “all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Food is here defined as any substance that people eat and drink to maintain life and growth. As a result, safe and clean water is an essential part of food commodities.
According to FAO (2008) from the above definiton, four main dimensions of food security can be identified:
|Food availability addresses the “supply side” of food security and is determined by the level of food production, stock levels and net trade.|
|An adequate supply of food at the national or international level does not in itself guarantee household level food security. Concerns about insufficient food access have resulted in a greater
Policy focus on incomes, expenditure, markets and prices in achieving food security objectives.
|Utilization is commonly understood as the way the body makes the most of various nutrients in the food. Sufficient energy and nutrient intake by individuals is the result of good care and feeding practices, food preparation, and diversity of the diet and intra-household distribution of food. Combined with good biological utilization of food consumed, this determines the nutritional status of individuals.|
|Even if your food intake is adequate today, you are still considered to be food insecure if you have inadequate access to food on a periodic basis, risking a deterioration of your nutritional status. Adverse weather conditions, political instability, or economic factors (unemployment, rising food prices) may have an impact on your food security status.|
For food security objectives to be realized, all four dimensions must be fulfilled simultaneously. Here it is noteworthy to take in to consideration Food is only one of a whole range of factors which determined why the poor take decisions and spread risk, and how they finely balanced competing interests in order to subsist in the short and longer term (Maxwell and Smith, 1992). People may choose to go hungry to preserve their assets and future livelihoods. It is misleading to treat food security as a fundamental need, independent of wider livelihood considerations.
Thus, the evolution of the concepts and issues related to household food and nutritional security led to the development of the concept of household livelihood security. The household livelihood security model allows for a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the relationships between the political economy of poverty, malnutrition, and dynamic and complex strategies that the poor use to negotiate survival. The model places particular emphasis on household actions, perceptions and choices; food is understood to be only one of the priorities that people pursue. People are constantly being required to balance food procurement against the satisfaction of other basic material and non-material needs (Maxwell and Frankenberg 1992).
African Initiatives and policy framework for the Right to food and food security
Considering the potential for Agriculture and Natural resources sectors for ensuring food security, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union have adopted various decisions and declarations that makes committing Member States to paying particular attention to the development of the different sub sectors of agriculture (Mme Rosebud Kurwijila, 2007). And different initiatives were formulated to work on food security with the given framework.
For the African Union Commission, these actions have been translated into programs through different policy tools and frameworks with the Regional Economic Communities as the building blocks. Without an enabling environment and sound policies to support African regional programs, the Right to Food for most of African people will remain elusive.
Hence the African Union Commission has initiated specific programs to enable Member States to achieve the right to food. Beside the African union as a main actor in developing initiatives and institute to address a right approach to food and food security in Africa region different intergovernmental and non-governmental initiatives are organized in Africa in the past and to date.
Numerous strategies, policies and programs intended to assist Africa’s development have been conceived and implemented by international body’s regional and national institutions.
On average, a typical developing country in Africa is assisted by about 30 aid institutions to implement these strategies, yet Africa is still far from achieving food and nutrition security. This paper examines to overview those strategies and policies the goal of achieving food security and the right to food.
Since the independent of most of African nations, according to Franz Heidhues etal (2004) two early responses to African socioeconomic development crises were the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) and the Regional Food Plan for Africa (AFPLAN). These started from the premise that, given the limited size and capacity of the private sector, the states had to take on the dominant role in development. Thus governments drew up comprehensive five-year plans, invested in large state-run basic industries and market structures, and enacted pervasive regulations to control prices, restrict trade, and allocate credit and foreign exchange, all generally carried out with full donor support. Publicly funded programs in support of agricultural research and extension, fertilizer supply, export production and marketing, and food distribution were the essential components of the approach.
The main focus of the lagos plan of action includes:
Minimizing Food losses: Careful assessment of the extent of food losses; Formulation of’ national policies for food loss reduction; and Construction of appropriate storage processing and other facilities;
Improving Food security: Urgent steps should be taken by every Member State to adopt a coherent national food security policy. National policies must be translated into concrete actions such as early construction of storage facilities, creation of grain reserves, improvement of grain stock management and better forecasting and early warning systems.
Food production: Food development must be promoted in an integrated manner, and should take into consideration the problem of transportation and distribution of farm products at the level of consumers. Food self-sufficiency should take into consideration the nutritional values of foodstuffs and should solve simultaneously the problems of under nutrition and malnutrition.
The set-up of agricultural production should be based on adequate and realistic agrarian reform programs consistent with political and social conditions prevailing in the respective countries. An improved organization of agricultural production must be given priority so as to increase agricultural production and productivity. Beside it gives more focus and investment in agricultural Research and investment
The second set of initiatives were policies based on the neoliberal understanding of economic development held by donors and international institutions (such as the World Bank and IMF) and were commonly referred to as structural adjustment programs (SAPs). These initiatives formed the frameworks within which food and nutrition security programs and strategies were developed in Africa during the past three decades (Franz Heidhues , 2004).
SAPs and neoliberal policies, often called the “Washington Consensus,” provoked considerable debate within development circles.
The Ten reforms that constituted were
- fiscal discipline
- reordering public expenditure priorities
- tax reform
- liberalizing interest rates
- a competitive exchange rate
- trade liberalization
- liberalization on inward foreign direct investment
10. property rights
Supporters argued that the reforms they put forward were essential and that reforms should be implemented sooner rather than later. Critics charged that the Washington Consensus paid insufficient attention to the social aspects of development and to the institutional weaknesses of developing countries.
In phases of SAP implementation, the views of strategists began to shift toward a more flexible and gradual approach to budget cutting, largely in response to criticism from African leaders, OAU, ECA, many NGOs, and scholars , with greater tolerance of short-term deficits during stabilization . At the same time, there was increasing recognition of the role governments play in providing the necessary support for education, health, and research and extension, most notably in agriculture, rural credit, and institutional development.
In a recent era, agricultural production/food security initiatives are currently underway in Africa: this includes
- FAO’s Special Program for Food Security (SPFS)
- World Bank’s Africa Region Rural Strategy (ARRS)
- Sasakawa–Global 2000 Africa Food Production Initiative
- alliance for green revolution in Africa
- Comprehensive African agriculture development program of the new partnership for Africa,
- African seed and Biotechnology program
- Strengthening early warning systems for food security in Africa
- Strengthening programs on agricultural health and food safety systems in Africa
- Feasibility study for the Common market for basic food products in Africa.
10. Home-grown School feeding program endorsed by the African Union Summit in 2003 in recognition of the right of African citizens to food.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has also focused on the issue of the right to food, even though the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights does not explicitly mention the right to food. The commission handed down a decision requiring states to protect and improve existing food sources and to ensure access to adequate food for all citizens (Charlotte McClain – Nhlapo, 2004).
Overview of selected African policy and initiatives
a. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program
Within the overall vision of NEPAD, the vision for African agriculture should seek to maximize the contribution of Africa’s largest economic sector to achieving the ambition of a self-reliant and productive Africa that can play its full part on the world stage. In essence, agriculture must, within NEPAD, deliver broadly based economic advancement to which other economic sectors, such as petroleum, minerals and tourism, may also contribute significantly, but which they cannot achieve on the mass scale that agriculture has the potential to do.
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) (NEPAD ,2003) has been endorsed by African Heads of State and Governments as a vision for the restoration of agricultural growth, food security, and rural development in Africa. A specific goal of CAADP is to attain an average annual growth rate of 6 percent in agriculture. To achieve this goal, CAADP aims to stimulate agriculture-led development that eliminates hunger and reduces poverty and food insecurity. More specifically, the NEPAD vision for Africa holds that, by 2015, Africa should:
- Attain food security;
- Improve agricultural productivity to attain a 6 percent annual growth rate;
- Develop dynamic regional and sub-regional agricultural markets;
- Integrate farmers into a market economy; and
- Achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth.
CAADP is acted as a strategic framework to guide country development efforts and partnerships in the agricultural sector. CAADP directs investment to four mutually reinforcing and interlinked pillars, each with a Framework that guides policy alignment and suggests actions for countries to consider in designing their CAADP Compacts, policy alignment, program design, investments and monitoring and evaluation post compact. These pillars are
Pillar I’s Framework for Sustainable Land and Water Management seeks to extend the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems;
Pillar II’s Framework for Improving Market Access (FIMA) seeks to improve rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access;
Pillar III’s Framework for African Food Security (FAFS) seeks to improve risk management, increase food supply, improve incomes for the poor and reduce hunger and malnutrition; and
Pillar IV’s Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP) seeks to improve Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption through strengthened agricultural knowledge systems to deliver profitable and sustainable technologies that are widely adopted by farmers resulting in sustained agricultural growth.
Areas of Primary Action in CAADP in (NEPAD, 2003) are
The proposed initiatives under the NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) focus on investment with areas of primary actions of the four pillars.
- Extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems. Reliance on irregular and unreliable rainfall for agricultural production is a major constraint on crop productivity; rain-fed agriculture is moreover often unable to permit high-yield crop varieties to achieve their full production potential. Accordingly, it is of concern that for Africa the percentage of arable land that is irrigated is 7 percent (barely 3.7 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa) while the corresponding percentages for South America, East and South-East Asia and South Asia are 10 percent, 29 percent and 41 percent respectively. Furthermore, in Africa 16 percent of all soils are classified as having low nutrient reserves while in Asia the equivalent figure is only 4 percent; moreover, fertilizer productivity (expressed in terms of maize yield response) in Africa is estimated at some 36 percent lower than in Asia and 92 percent lower than in developed countries. Building up soil fertility and the moisture holding capacity of agricultural soils and rapidly increasing the area equipped with irrigation, especially small-scale water control, will not only provide farmers with opportunities to raise output on a sustainable basis but also will contribute to the reliability of food supplies.
- Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access. Improvements in roads, storage, markets, packaging and handling systems, and input supply networks, are vital to raising the competitiveness of local production vis-à-vis imports and in export markets. Investment in these areas will stimulate the volume of production and trade, thereby assisting to generate an appropriate rate of return on needed investments in ports and airport facilities. In general, Africa urgently needs infrastructure improvements for development, given that it faces the longest distances to the nearest large markets and that a fifth of its population is landlocked. Its rail freight is under 2 percent of the world total, the marine freight capacity is 11 percent (much being foreign owned but registered for convenience in Africa), and air freight is less than 1 percent; similarly, its power generation capacity per capita is less than half of that in either Asia or Latin America. In parallel with improvements in infrastructure within Africa, adjustments are needed in the promotion and support (including subsidy) policies of developed countries. Exporting countries within the region need to raise their capacity to participate in trade negotiations and to meet the increasingly stringent quality requirements of world trade.
- Increasing food supply and reducing hunger. Africa currently lags behind all other regions in terms of farm productivity levels, with depressed crop and livestock yields and limited use of irrigation and other inputs. By accessing improved technology – much of which is simple and relatively low in cost – small farmers can play a major role in increasing food availability close to where it is most needed, raising rural incomes and expanding employment opportunities, as well as in contributing to a growth in exports. This requires improved farm support services, pilot projects targeted at poor communities and a supportive policy environment. A sub-component of this pillar is for investment to respond to the growing frequency and severity of disasters and emergencies; it calls for some attention to the fact that rapid humanitarian interventions followed by rehabilitation are required before normal development can resume.
- Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption. This long-term pillar, which aims at achieving accelerated gains in productivity, will require:
- An enhanced rate of adoption for the most promising available technologies, to support the immediate expansion of African production through the more efficient linking of research and extension systems to producers;
- Technology delivery systems that rapidly bring innovations to farmers and agribusinesses, thereby making increased adoption possible, notably through the appropriate use of new information and communication technologies;
- renewing the ability of agricultural research systems to efficiently and effectively generate and adapt new knowledge and technologies, including biotechnology, to Africa, which are needed to increase output and productivity while conserving the environment; and
- Mechanisms that reduce the costs and risks of adopting new technologies
- Countries under the framework of NEPAD / CAADP should Developing an Operational Plan for CAADP
Developing a regional or country-level strategy entails the following 6 steps:
- Stocktaking regarding where the region or country is at present regarding CAADP targets;
- Estimating the magnitude of change required to achieve the CAADP vision and objectives;
- Creating an inventory and identify options to achieve the objectives of the vision;
- Prioritizing interventions and costing options to focus on the best returns for an investment plan and addressing the necessary conditions to meet objectives;
- Reviewing implementation options, roles, responsibilities and coordination; and
- Finalizing and packaging an integrated program that includes an investment and operational plan and institutional arrangements.
b. Alliance for green revolution in Africa
African is a net importer of food and most of the foods consumed are produced by small holder farmers. To increase the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of these farms, African farmers need greater access to affordable yield-enhancing inputs, including well-adapted seeds and new methods for integrated soil fertility management, as well as to output markets where they can convert surplus production into cash.
According to the evidence from Gary toenniessen et al (2008) to address these needs, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). AGRA is now African led and is working within the context of the comprehensive agricultural development program established by Africa’s leaders. From offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Accra, Ghana, AGRA support work across all key aspects of the African agricultural value chain to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.
Since agriculture is at the center of life and economies in Africa, about 80% of Africans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods with a small farm of less than two hectares per household. The very low productivity of these farms fuels the cycle of poverty and hunger in Africa. At the same time, their potential productivity provides the basis for a fundamental transformation of African agriculture one which would put Africa firmly on the path of priority.
So the alliance for a green revolution in Africa (AGRA) is an African based and African leg organization working with partner to catalyze change that rapidly and sustainably increase the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers, most of whom are women and achieves food security in Africa.
AGRA drives innovations, funds demonstration, and works with partners and Africa’s farmers to scale up successes in smallholder farming, with a strong focus on staple food crops in high potential breadbasket areas with a goal of catalyzing a uniquely African green revolution (AGRA, 2009).
AGRA works to achieve a more food secure and prosperous Africa through the promotion of rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers. Since Small holders produce most of Africa’s food, and do so with minimal resources and little government support. AGRA strive to ensure that smallholders have what they need to succeed including good seeds and healthy soils , access to market , information , financing , storage and transport , and supportive policies.
To achieve the above goal AGRA put six strategic objectives around which it organizes the overall activities and investments (AGRA, 2011).
- Develop technologies to rapidly increase agricultural productivity in environmentally friendly ways
- Increase incomes, improve food security and reduce poverty among smallholders’ farmers in Africa in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.
- Develop an evidence based policy environment and incentives system for improving farmers access to new technologies , knowledge and other resources needed to transform smallholder farming with special attention given to women farmers.
- Provide a platform for bilateral and multilateral donors, national governments, research entities, farmers’ organizations and others to forge effective alliance for addressing agricultural productivity.
- Inspire action by demonstrating what is possible and
- Identify and fill critical financing and human resource gaps by mobilizing national and international resources in support of an African green revolution.
Concerning to AGRA policy and partnership program, AGRA does not set policies for African countries. The main goal of AGRA in this aspect is to organize and support appropriate networks to effect change at the national level and support those networks through the best available evidence on which government can base policy decisions.
In the agricultural value chain, several important policy areas require attention, including seed policies, soil health, staple crop market and trade policies, land and property policy rights, environmental and climate change resilience, and access to finance.
According to AGRA’s strategy , its goals between now and 2020 are 50% reduce food insecurity at least in 20 African nations , double the income of 20 million smallholders farmers and put at least 15% nations on track to attain and sustain a green revolution.
AGRA strategies and program are closely aligned with the comprehensive African agriculture development program, developed by the African union new economic partnership for African development, which provides the framework for agricultural renewal in Africa.
AGRA partners with national governments , agricultural research organizations, farmers , the private sectors , financial institutions , universities , civil society , foundations , farmer cooperatives and other rural development stakeholders to engage and empower resources poor farmer in Africa.
Progress in the Implementation of policy and initiatives
and the way forward:
There is a wide recognition that agriculture and rural development must play a central role in economic growth, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security improvement, as the implication of disinvestment in the sector during the structural adjustment era have become clear.
This recognition is evident in recent intensifying effort at redirecting and committing resources to agriculture and rural development. Prior to the 2003 Maputo declaration, for example, rich countries at the 2002 Monterey conference renewed their pledge to increase their development assistance from 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent of their GDP (Benin ,S, 2010).
Since the 2003 Maputo declaration, the agriculture led approach to Africa development proposed by the head of state has been gaining support at all levels. Culminating in various policies and funding initiatives that support African agriculture and aim to increase food and nutrition security.
So far some African countries have examplifies based on their development track and achieving the NEPAD commitment of 6% of agricultural growth in African member states and 10% of agricultural budget allocation form annual GDP. From the Several countries that have shown increased support for agriculture and reaped the rewards, BURKINA FASO, ETHIOPIA and GHANA demonstrated an averaged 16.9%, 15.2% and 9.1% of public spending on agriculture from 2003 to 2010 respectfully.
Ethiopia’s Agricultural Sector ten-year PIF (2010-2020) provides a strategic framework for the prioritization and planning of investments intended to drive agricultural growth and development in Ethiopia (Nienke beintema and Gert-Jan Stads, 2011). It outlines and elaborates specific objectives and expected outcomes aimed at attainment of GTP and CAADP goals and targets.
There is some evidence in faces of green revolution in many of farmers, scientists and entrepreneurs who change the landscape of African agriculture with the support of National governments, international community and organizations like AGRA. These is all that can be accomplished when smallholder farmers work with the tools of modern agriculture: robust , high yielding seed , practical integrated soil fertility and water management practices , affordable credit and efficient markets.
In the past efforts, AGRA and other regional initiatives with the CAADP have done some progress in improving food market by building the capacity of agro dealers, improving productivity, train next generation African agricultural researcher and supporting for the preparation of sound policy environment for African development toward achieving food security and the right to food (AGRA, 2010).
The way forward
Several major initiatives in the past few years have brought renewed attention and commitment to economic development and food and nutrition security in Africa. The recent economic recovery and the new commitment to change among African leaders and development partner indicate for the first time after decades that Africa is poised to achieve real progress toward food and nutrition security. Sustaining and accelerating growth to reach the poverty reduction and nutrition millennium development goals will require clear strategies to guide future policy and investment decisions.
Ratification of the comprehensive Africa agricultural development program (CAADP) is a key component of the African union’s new partnership for Africa’s development (NEPAD) by an African head of state and government in 2003 signified their commitment to agriculture led development.
If current economic and agricultural growth trends persist, at least half of all African countries will fail to achieve the millennium development goals (MDGs) set forth by the United Nations in 2000. While a number of African countries are currently undergoing a process of economic recovery, evidence shows that efforts may fail to induce broad based improvement in rural areas, home to majority of poor Africans (IFPRI. 2007).
These demands more vibrant Africa policy framework and initiatives that will shape the overall development efforts made in Africa to make sure to achieve MDG and other commitments to fulfill the right approach to African food security.
This paper is prepared on the objective of taking an overview of African initiatives and policy framework to address the right to food and food security in Africa. In the first part of the document the paper put conceptual definition to the right to food and food security that will be served as a working definition for the next part of the paper.
In the main part of the document historical development of African policy framework and initiatives development are noted since an African independence by the facilitation of African union. At the end of the paper the group selected comprehensive African agriculture development program developed by new partnership for African development of the African union and alliance for a green revolution for detail description to be exemplified as current active African policy framework and initiatives.
Even if food security concept take different forms including food availability, access and utilization (nutrition and sanitation) , this paper give African policy framework and initiatives on focus to food production and productivity with an ultimate goal of the right to food and food security.
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 The Sasakawa–Global 2000 program combined the financial backing of Mr. Sasakawa with agricultural know-how in the form of technical packages comprising manual fertilizer and improved seeds, and then supported their transfer to farmers. It gradually expanded from its original base in Ghana, Sudan, and Zambia to about 12 countries, and is continuing its efforts to develop a technology package that is sufficiently attractive to farmers to achieve a wide impact in Africa.
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