Lesson 1, Topic 2
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What is food security? (B)

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Evolution of food security concepts:

  • The term first originated in the mid-1970s, when the World Food Conference (1974) defined food security in terms of food supply: “Availability at all times of adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices”
  • 1983 shift of the focus on food access: “Ensuring that all people at all times have both physical and economic access to the basic food that they need”
  • Revision of the definition to include the individual and household level, in addition to the regional and national level
  • In 1986, focus of the World Bank Report on Poverty and Hunger (WB 1986) on temporal dynamics of food insecurity; distinction between chronic food insecurity, associated with problems of continuing or structural poverty and low incomes, and transitory food insecurity, which involved periods of unsatisfied pressure caused by natural disasters, economic collapse or conflict
  • Complemented by Amartya Sen’s theory of famine (1981) highlighting the effect of personal entitlement on food access, i.e. production, labour, trade and transfer based resources
  • Finally, the World Food Summit (1996) definition reinforces the multidimensional nature of food security and includes access, availability, food use and stability
  • In tow of that definition: promotion and recovery of livelihood options made popular e.g. by Chambers and Conway (1992) —> now fundamental to international organizations’ development programmes and increasingly applied in emergency contexts (vulnerability, risk coping, risk management as elements)
  • Moving from crop failure only to food insecurity as a social and political construct (Devereux 2000)
  • Human rights aspect: Right to Food as part of the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948; in 1996, the formal adoption of the Right to Adequate Food marks a milestone achievement by the World Food Summit
  • Over 40 countries have the right to food enshrined in their constitutions (Stand 2006)
  • Video 06:00-06:20 FAO food security definition
  • The dimensions of food security
  • Today: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. (World Food Summit, 1996).
  • Food availability: The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports (including food aid).
  • Food access: Access by individuals to adequate resources (entitlements) for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Entitlements are defined as the set of all commodity bundles over which a person can establish command given the legal, political, economic and social arrangements of the community in which they live (including traditional rights such as access to common resources).
  • Utilization: Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. This brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security.
  • Stability: To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. They should not risk losing access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. an economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (e.g. seasonal food insecurity). The concept of stability can therefore refer to both the availability and access dimensions of food security. (all definitions from: Policy brief June 2006: Food security; same as in Andy’s video) <- use these for a small quiz? e.g. Fill the blanks