With Rio+20 UNCSD taking place this week, the issues of development and sustainability continue to garner attention. The Landscapes Blog has been highlighting relevant reports, which discuss various approaches to economic growth and poverty alleviation, while addressing multiple environmental concerns. The Africa Human Development Report, published by the UNDP, discusses the issue of food security in the future, and why despite Africa’s rapid economic progress in the past ten years, a substantial proportion of the population is still plagued by hunger. While a lack of food contributes to the food insecurity issues, more often it is the uneven access to food that is at the core of the issue. Uneven access is often a symptom of people’s low involvement and high levels of vulnerability. As many African’s suffer greatly from poor governance and lack of empowerment, this inequitable right to food is widespread. The report aims to identify constraints in achieving the targets of food security and nutrition that were set by the Millennium Goals as well as determining how to strengthen both food security and human development in a reasonable time frame.
According to UNDP’s report summary, in order to create a food secure future there are several critical areas that must be focused on. These four drivers of change are:
- Increasing productivity of smallholder farmers
- More effective nutrition policies (especially for children and women)
- Greater community and household resilience to cope with shocks
- Wider popular participation and empowerment.
As is evident from these highlighted areas, a fundamental change in approach is necessary for success. The report argues that substantial change will come only if food security is viewed as a challenge beyond sectoral mandates. An agenda that integrates humanitarian and development work, enabling the people and communities themselves to strengthen their resilience and education, is necessary. Resilience and empowerment of local people is vital, as is clearly illustrated when local solutions are often more sustainable in the long run then top down decisions. However, in order for Africans to extricate themselves from this history of chronic hunger, correct policy decisions and governance are necessary. The Africa Human Development Report enforces the need for political, economic, and social power to be widely dispersed among the people and governments.
Additionally, as basic human rights are often being violated in Sub Saharan Africa, an emphasis is placed on Civil Society Organizations and Human Rights groups helping to mobilize and support communities while also holding government officials accountable for their actions. Instituting policies that allow and encourage the most vulnerable to have a voice allow for the other areas of focus, such as nutrition and agriculture productivity, to prosper (improve) as well. It is through responsible governance and forthright action both regionally and abroad that the potential gains for human development and food security can be reached.