To reduce the risks of food and nutrition insecurity among vulnerable populations, the rural and urban poor must have access to sustainable instruments that not only help them manage risks and respond to shocks in the short term, but also improve their resilience and promote their food security in the long run.
Targeted grant programmes and other social assistance schemes can reduce food insecurity, improve livelihoods, help farmers obtain assets and boost community resilience. They can come in the form of cash transfers, school meals, food-for-work programmes, vouchers, food banks, or other means. Often grant programmes are accompanied by parallel development initiatives. Some that have proven successful include:
Grants can help stop the negative spiral of food insecurity that unfolds according to an all too familiar pattern: drought, conflict or some other crisis leads to crop failures, which decreases supply while forcing people to rely on food aid, which in turn must be purchased. The combination of lower supply and higher demand leads to higher food prices. At the same time, those affected tend to have lower incomes and are therefore faced with reduced ability to buy food. Poorer nutrition leads to worsening health, which reduces people’s ability to work, which leads to even lower incomes.
Also known as basic social protection programmes, these schemes help farmers invest in more production, greater productivity, and assets. They provide a cushion against seasonal ups and downs and eliminate the need for coping strategies such as taking children out of school or selling assets. They boost rural markets and retailers, whose fortunes generally track those of farmers. They also improve nutrition, and ultimately health, by adding calories and improving the quality of the diet.
Despite the crucial short-term needs of responding to food security crises, a long-term view aimed at better agricultural production and productivity in the future must be embedded in emergency aid programmes. In turn, development efforts must include crisis risk management planning. In the age of climate change, preparedness and prevention must move to the forefront. Aid and development teams need to work together.
A favourable political and institutional environment in the target area greatly improves chances for success. For instance, it was easier to implement a procurement scheme to favour small farmers in Honduras than in many other places because that country was already committed to the concept.
Procurement programmes drive demand to small farmers, thus giving them both an incentive to invest and the confidence to do so. Smallholders have proven capable of meeting quality standards when they have an assured market ready to take their extra output. It is also important for small farmers to form associations and cooperatives so that they can aggregate their crops for purchase by larger-scale buyers.
Cristina Amaral, Service Chief, Emergency Relief Rehabilitation Unit, Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Ajay Kumar Bramdeo, Head of the Mission to the European Union, African Union
Catherine Feeney, Senior Programme Advisor, P4P, World Food Programme
Dr Asha Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society
Jean Francois Maystadt, Senior Researcher, Development Strategy and
Governance Division, International Food Research Institute
Francesca Mosca, Director, Sub-Saharan Africa and Horizontal ACP Matters,
Directorate General for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid, European
Ousseini Ouédraogo, Staff Member, Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa – ROPPA
Matthias Rompel, Head of Section Social Protection, Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ
Moderator: Frederic Bouchard, Head of Europe desk, EuroNews
This panel was organised by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ, International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies – IFRC, Red Cross / EU Office – RC EU, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation