There is no denying that short-term humanitarian assistance for the poorest and most vulnerable, displaced populations, children and women has been an urgent need. However, long-term development efforts to improve nutrition and food security, livelihoods and health, which are also inter-linked, are imperative to shift the needle towards greater resilience and reduced vulnerability. As the FAO report shows, access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food needs to be framed as a human right, with priority being given to the most vulnerable groups. When poor people have enough nutritious food they are more likely to lead healthier and productive lives, less likely to be burdened by healthcare costs, and also less likely to take drastic decisions that impoverish them in the longer term.
We also need to find ways to address the root causes of conflict and inequality, especially as 10 of the 13 major food crises in 2016 were conflict driven. Our efforts on malnutrition and resilience cannot bear fruit until we invest in peace building– particularly given the number of countries that have been marred by prolonged conflict.
In addition, in 2017, 14 of the 34 countries in ‘food-crisis’ experienced the concomitant impact of conflict and climate shocks, such as prolonged droughts.
If we are serious about tackling hunger, then the international community must take a multi-pronged and better-aligned approach to sustainably improve food security and nutrition. Commitments such as the Grand Bargain for humanitarian action, and the recent UN conflict and hunger resolution 2417 serve as an important guidance for donors (both bilateral and multilateral), the UN, civil society, and governments to work in greater harmony.
As Concern marks 50 years, our commitment to tackling hunger and malnutrition, humanitarian assistance, and resilience efforts stands as strong as it did in response to the famine in Biafra, Nigeria. We know that in working with others who share the same vision, we will be able to build a better future for the millions who are currently entrenched in the hunger, malnutrition, vulnerability and poverty cycle. Ten years is not long, but it is long enough to bring transformational change.
Senior Policy Officer (Nutrition)