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Food security

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**Concept of Food Security**

– **Definition:** Food security refers to the availability of food that meets dietary needs for an active life, while food insecurity indicates limited access to safe and acceptable foods. Chronic food insecurity involves a persistent lack of adequate food, while nutrition security ensures adequate nutrition for all household members.
– **Measurement:** Food security is typically measured by calories intake per person per day, with components including availability, accessibility, and utilization. The FAO’s Food Insecurity Experience Scale and the SOFI report by FAO, WFP, IFAD, WHO, and UNICEF are used for global food security measurement.
– **Factors Influencing Food Security:** Factors such as the availability of food irrespective of class, gender, or region, resilience to future disruptions, and the importance of agency and sustainability are crucial in ensuring food security. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization, and stability, with recent additions being agency and sustainability.

**Prevalence and Impact of Food Insecurity**

– **Prevalence:** Food insecurity varies in severity across regions globally, with statistics showing undernourishment rates by region and sex in different years. Approximately 12% of the global population was severely food insecure in 2020, with variations in prevalence across regions and demographics.
– **Vulnerable Groups Most Affected:** Vulnerable groups such as children, women, ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQIA+ community are disproportionately affected by food insecurity, with varying rates based on race, class, education levels, and gender inequality.

**Global Impact and Challenges**

– **Challenges:** Challenges to food security include the impact of food not being used as a tool for political and economic pressure, warnings from organizations like the IMF on increasing import costs affecting vulnerable populations, and the importance of maintaining foreign reserves for food and fertilizer imports. The evolution of the food security concept to include agency, sustainability, and the recognition of rights to food in legal frameworks and international declarations are crucial in addressing global challenges.
– **History:** Historical instances of famines caused by factors such as drought, war, and economic policies, along with examples like the Holodomor, highlight the influence of government actions on the severity of famines and the use of mass starvation as a weapon of war.

**Pillars of Food Security**

– **Evolution:** The concept of food security has evolved over time, with the growth in food production exceeding population growth since 1961. The three traditional pillars of food security are availability, access, and utilization, with the addition of stability and recent recommendations for agency and sustainability.
– **Availability:** Factors affecting food production, competition for resources, impact of unsustainable agricultural practices, and challenges in food distribution infrastructure are essential considerations for ensuring food availability.

**Causes and Challenges of Food Insecurity**

– **Global Water Crisis:** The global water crisis, particularly affecting regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, poses a significant threat to food security, with projections indicating millions living in high water-stress areas by 2030. Water scarcity impacts agricultural livelihoods and food security.
– **Land Degradation and Climate Change:** Issues such as land degradation from intensive farming practices, climate change affecting agriculture globally, and the negative impacts on food production, including declining yields and threats to staple crops like wheat, are critical challenges to food security.

Food security (Wikipedia)

Food security is the availability of food in a country (or other geographic region) and the ability of individuals within that country (region) to access, afford, and source adequate foodstuffs. The availability of food irrespective of class, gender or region is another element of food security. Similarly, household food security is considered to exist when all the members of a family, at all times, have access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Individuals who are food-secure do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. Food insecurity, on the other hand, is defined as "limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate, safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways." Food security incorporates a measure of resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply due to various risk factors including droughts, shipping disruptions, fuel shortages, economic instability, and wars.

A woman selling produce at a market in Lilongwe, Malawi

The concept of food security has evolved to recognize the centrality of agency and sustainability, along with the four pillars - availability, access, utilization, and stability. These six dimensions of food security are reinforced in conceptual and legal understandings of the right to food. The 1996 World Summit on Food Security declared that "food should not be used as an instrument for political and economic pressure."

The International Monetary Fund cautioned in September 2022 that "the impact of increasing import costs for food and fertilizer for those extremely vulnerable to food insecurity will add $9 billion to their balance of payments pressures – in 2022 and 2023." This would deplete countries' foreign reserves as well as their capacity to pay for food and fertilizer imports."

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