Food and nutrition (in)security

Famine and Feast
Life on the margins: the inequality of food and nutrition security
PowerPoint presentation by
Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders
Schools Team: Mary Doherty and Severa von Wentzel
March 2014
Food security
and insecurity
Food security: a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have
physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food
that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy
life. Based on this definition, four security dimensions can be identifies: food
availability, economic and physical access to food, food utilisation and stability
over time.
Food insecurity A situation that exists when people lack secure access to
sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and
development and an active and health life. IT may be caused by the
unavailability of food, insufficient purchasing power, inappropriate distribution
or inadequate use of food at the household level. Food insecurity, poor
conditions of health and sanitation and inappropriate care and feeding
practices are the major causes of poor nutritional status. Food insecurity may
be chronic, seasonal or transitory.
Clip on food insecurity
Source: FAO “Undernourishment around the world”,;
Nutrition security
Nutrition security is a tributary of food security. People need enough to eat
and they need enough of the right kind of foods when they need them. That is,
nutrient needs are met for each individual according to their needs, and
nutrient needs vary through the life cycle.
• Since the nutritional needs vary by age, gender, whether pregnant/breast
feeding , nutrition security must be analysed either individual by
individual or at least by vulnerable group: pregnant and breast feeding
women, infants 0-6 months, infants 6-23 months, adolescent girls,
adolescent boys to a lesser extent, and individuals with chronic illness.
• Vulnerability is both socio-economic (less economic power) and physiologic
(higher nutrient demands): for example, a poor 18-month-old child is more
vulnerable than a poor 18-year-old adult.
• Nutrition security combines food security with sanitary environment,
adequate health services and proper care and feeding practices.
Dimensions of
food security (FAO)
Food security is a complex concept. It has four pillars and many indicators. There
are complex correlations between the many parameters.
Further info and source: FAO “Undernourishment around the world”,; An introduction to the basic concepts of Food Security
Food Security Risk
The Maplecroft Food Security Risk Index measures quality and safety,
affordability and availability.
The Food Security Index map is similar to the Maplecroft.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network works at a finer scale than
Further info
• “Food is the ultimate security need, new map shows”
• About FEWS:
• Maplecroft Map Risk Index 2013
• Food security Index map 2013
• Interactive chart:
Food Security Risk Index
FAO food security
The dimensions are still framed as a problem of under-consumption, an
outdated paradigm, rather than one of growing malnutrition.
Hunger and obesity are often flip-sides of the same malnutrition coin.
Hunger and obesity can be symptoms of poverty. A key link between
hunger and obesity is the scarcity of healthy options (e.g., fresh fruits and
vegetables) and factors related to poverty in low-income areas.
Utilisation does refer to health in the sense of nutrition, but the dimensions
do not mention the environment or sustainability.
Major reports* on food security do mention the environment and
sustainability and share a common sense of urgency about environmental,
economic, socio-cultural trends and pressures, but write little on health.
*E.g., IAASTD/World Bank & FAO (2008); Chatham House (2008);
FAO HighLevel Task Force (2008); French Agrimonde (2010); UK Foresight (2011)
Source: “Food Security and Sustainability: One Can’t Make an Omelette Without Cracking Some Eggs”;
Eco-nutrition security
There is growing recognition that the international focus
should move from food security not just to nutrition security,
but ultimately to eco-nutrition security. The term and
concept captures the relationship between food, human health,
environment, agriculture and economic development.
Eco-nutrition focuses on
• Total diet
• Verifiable standards
• Sustainability
• Seasonality
• Full-cost accounting including the economic, social and
environmental costs
Adequate food
“The concept of adequate food is an important part of the current definition
of household food security. Clearly, what is adequate for one member is not
adequate for another. A person's requirements for different nutrients depend
on many factors including age, sex, level of activity and physiological status.
However, adequacy of diets should not be considered only in quantitative
terms (i.e. caloric sufficiency), but also in qualitative terms (i.e. variety,
safety and cultural acceptability).
Several major conditions define an adequate diet, necessary for an
individual to stay active and healthy:
It should provide adequate energy and protein.
It should provide micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in sufficient quantities to maintain
good health.
It should be safe and free from contaminants, parasites and toxins which may be injurious to
It should be culturally acceptable and, in addition, should satisfy the palate and be capable of
providing pleasure to the consumer.” (FAO
Stability of
household food supply
“Stability of household food supplies refers to the ability of a household to
procure, through income, production and/or transfers, adequate food
supplies on a continuing basis, even when the household is faced with
situations of unpredictable stress, shocks or crises. Such situations could
include crop failure resulting from drought, market fluctuations such as
sudden price rises, the decline or loss of employment and loss of productive
capacity because of sudden illness.
The concept also denotes an ability to stabilize food supplies through
seasonal fluctuations of production or income. It also implies the
household's ability to cope with or minimize the extent and duration of the
effects of food deficits. The critical test of stability is the ability to bounce
back or to regain quickly an adequate food supply For this to be a
possibility, safety-net mechanisms are needed such as community grain
stores or labour-intensive public works to support the purchasing power of
the poor temporarily and to absorb the effects of short-term production or
income losses that adversely affect the food supply of households.”
Access to
food supply
Household food security...depends not only on the availability of
an adequate and sustainable supply of food, but also on the
strategies employed by households for its acquisition. The ability
of different households to establish access to the food supply
can be considered both in terms of production and in terms of
the people's ability to exchange their assets for food, for
example through bartering, purchase or food-for-work. People's
assets may include their income; their access to, use of and/or
ownership of land; their livestock; their labour and the products
of their labour; their inheritance; and gifts and transfers. The
value of the exchange for individuals or households will vary with
market forces, including wages and prices.(FAO
Food security model
with ecology and sustainability
Model about how to provide the food, water and energy to sustain human
health and social well-being whilst sustaining resources and the
Source: Oshaug, A and L.Haddad “Nutrition and Agriculture”,
Direct causes
Factors affecting
food security and
Indirect root
Price volatility
Externalised costs (cost of production
or consumption off loaded onto third
Energy reliance
Action for students:
Aspirations for more: rise of middle
classes and changed food tastes
Natural disasters (e.g., floods, drought), Climate change
Land use
Place and group factors in the table.
Some may fit more than one cause.
Population growth; Inequality of: income,
access, gender;
Infrastructure and services
Healthcare; Land security / tenure (e.g.
land grabs); Source of food supply, food
stocks, hoarding, waste;
Governance, corruption, debt repayments,
trade restrictions and subsidies;
Conflict, IDPs, refugees;
Degradation, desertification, deforestation,
overcropping, overgrazing, urban sprawl,
pests, pollution;
The slides on factors of the global food
crisis may be helpful.
Malnutrition, non-communicable
diseases, health care costs
Source: IAASTD / World Bank & FAO (2008) ; Source: “Food Security and Sustainability: One Can’t Make an Omelette Without Cracking Some Eggs”; Edexcel Student Guide Unit 4, Option 3;
Household food insecurity
and affected populations
Area of risk
Households and people at risk
Crop production (pests, drought, etc.)
Smallholders with little income diversification and limited access to improved
technology (e.g. improved seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, pest control)
Agricultural trade (disruption of exports or
Landless term labourers
Smallholders who are highly specialized in an export crop
Small-scale pastoralists
Poor households that are highly dependent on imported food
Food prices (large, sudden price rises)
Urban poor
Poor, net food-purchasing households
Wage-earning households
Informal-sector employees in pert-urban areas
Informal-sector employees in rural areas when there is a sudden crop production
Health (infectious diseases, for example,
resulting in labour productivity decline)
Politics and policy failure
Entire communities, but especially those households that cannot afford preventive or
curative care and vulnerable members of those households
Households in war zones and areas of civil unrest
Households in low-potential areas that are not connected to growth centres via
Demography (individual risks affecting large
Women, especially when they have little or no access to education
Female-headed households
Children at weaning age
The elderly
Source: FAO/WHO, 1992b.
Challenges to
food and nutrition supply and security
Demographic challenges - Population growth, urbanisation, insecurity and
conflict stemming from urban areas and mostly from developing countries will mean
more demand for better food and need for good infrastructure and good governance
(institutions, government capacity, security of property rights, functioning legal and
tax system)
Climate change is affecting food production patterns and may place regions and
countries most vulnerable to food insecurity at even greater risk. Need for ecosystem
Agriculture and bio fuel, a transport fuel made from biomass. US and EU mandates
for ethanol production have contributed to increasing demands and are likely to
continue pushing up food prices as they divert crops toward the production of fuel.
Bio fuel has become more competitive player as a producer of energy and alternative
outlet for agricultural production because of rising oil prices and concern for fuel
emissions (Kyoto protocol).
Food prices have been notably higher since 2000 than in the previous two decades,
They continue to be volatile. Volatility and higher food prices lead poor households to
consume food of lower nutritional value, entrenching them in a cycle of poor nutrition.
Further info on policy responses to food price volatility:
Food insecurity
factors in the UK (1)
Food insecurity factors
in the UK (2)
Food insecurity
factors in the drylands
According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification
Internal drivers:
Worsening factors:
• High prices on the
commodity market
• Lack of investment
• Governance issues and
land grabbing
• Lack of regional
cooperation and conflicts
• Migration
• Climate change
Inherent poor soil
Water scarcity
Land degradation
Low growth on agricultural
Population growth
Further info and source:
Food security
mind map
Action for students:
Create your own mind map of all issues involved at global and local scales in food
security using the previous slides for reference.
• Discuss food insecurity as chronic, temporary, sporadic or seasonal, rare/common
to compare areas in terms of their vulnerability to food insecurity.
• Discuss why socio-economic factors often exert a very significant impact on the
geography of food security; often more so than climate, soil or geographical
• Explain why drylands can be food insecure, but also can be food secure and give
Note for students: The Jan 2010 exam question asked students to discuss
management strategies at ‘all scales’ Examiners commented there was a lack of
awareness of what is meant by ‘all scales’ Make sure you are aware!
More equitable
regional and global trade
To meet the food and livelihood security needs of developing countries,
establish more equitable regional and global trade arrangements to enable
rural communities and developing countries;
To address global equity and biodiversity issues, revise intellectual
property laws toward a more equitable system with recognition of farmers’
rights to save and exchange seeds;
To improve corporate accountability* and help ensure that public sector
research responds to public interest goals, enforce strong codes of
conduct to guide public-private partnerships;
To help break up the monopoly control of the food system, establish
and strengthen international competition rules and anti-trust regulations; to
enforce labour standards and regulation
To strengthen local and regional food systems, establish local policy
* Accountability making use of information to hold decision-makers to account for their actions and promises.
Source: IAASTD Factsheet
Humanitarian emergencies are likely to affect more
people in the coming decades for many reasons, including
• Rapid population growth, particularly in disaster-prone areas.
• Continued mass urbanisation, often unplanned and unsafe.
• Climate change and climate-related disasters because of its
effects on sea levels, global rainfall and storm patterns – an
estimated 375 million people will be affected every year by
2015 compared to 263 million in 2010.
Hazard, Disaster or
• A hazard is natural or human-made event that adversely affects human life, property or
activity. Meteorological hazards make up most of the natural hazard events. In addition to
the rise in weather-related natural hazards, more reporting thanks to better
communication may make it seem like the frequency and destruction of natural hazards
and disasters are increasing more than they actually are.
• “A disaster is an occurrence disrupting the normal conditions of existence and causing a
level of suffering that exceeds the capacity of adjustment of the affected
community.”(WHO/EHA 2002)
• Impacts can be direct or indirect; short or long-term; tangible or intangible; negative
or positive.
• Caused by the impacts of disasters, whether man-made, natural or both, humanitarian
emergencies call for urgent and immediate relief or aid. The can be complex with
multiple effects and impacts. Impacts can be physical, social or economic.
Impact of natural hazards on food security
compounded by human factors
Climate change
Climate change has
wide-ranging impacts,
including on water
resources, agriculture
and food security.
It is a threat multiplier.
Image DOHA:
CMP8-4.jpg; Image Falling off the scale
The negative impact
of climate change on food security
It affects food and nutrition security in that it makes:
• Natural disasters more frequent and intense Extreme weather-related
disasters are bound to become more frequent and have a disproportionate
toll on poor, weak and elderly people.
• Water scarcer and harder to access
– Changing rainfall patterns are likely to cause severe water shortages
and/or flooding as well as accelerate land degradation.
– Melting of glaciers are likely to lead to flooding and soil erosion.
• Increases in productivity harder to achieve.
– Rising temperatures will cause shifts in crop growing seasons and to
have a negative influence on yields and livestock numbers and
productivity, which affect food security, and changes will place more
people at risk from diseases.
– The effects of climate change are predicted to drive up prices of major
food crops in many developing countries (UNDP 2007)
Source: World Bank, “Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management”,,contentMDK:22285979~menuPK:6409827~pagePK
UN intergovernmental
panel on climate change report (IPCC)
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts
of climate change” - Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.
• Growing risk of humanitarian crisis – Climate change cuts into global
food supply, so raises the risk of rising food prices, food insecurity,
political instability and conflict.
• Climate change has already diminished the global food supply with
declining global crop yields especially for wheat, raising new concern
about whether production can keep up with population growth.
• Climate change will make it harder for developing countries to
emerge from poverty and will create "poverty pockets" in rich and
poor countries.
Source: The Guardian “Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind - IPCC report
IPCC of key impacts
Climate change and
food and nutrition security
“Climate change impacts will disproportionately fall on people
living in tropical regions, and particularly on the most
Action for students:
vulnerable and marginalised population groups. This is the
Read about the effect of
injustice of climate change – the worst of the impacts are felt
climate change on food
by those who contributed least to causing the problem.“ -
security worldwide.
Why are the poorest
and most vulnerable
Regions already sensitive to water shortages and extreme most affected?
weather events have limited resources to cope with the
The Guardian articles:
Robinson, the former Irish president (
impact of climate change and the added pressure of
increasing populations.
As soon as 2030 negative impacts of climate change on
local food security for several crops and regions are
expected to become significant with South Asia, Southern
Africa, the West African Sahel and Brazil projected to be
most affected.
Agriculture and
climate change
Agriculture is expected to be affected most by climate change, which is in turn
affected in part by our consumption choices. (see WWF clip on the effect of our choices
on climate change and resources
The causes of climate change are largely man-made:
• Increased emissions of greenhouse gases because of burning of fossil fuels
• Deforestation of rainforests
• Methane from agriculture and nitrous oxide emissions (mostly from nitrogen
losses from fertilisers and manure)
“Modern farms produce particulate matter and gases that affect the
environment and human health and add to rising atmospheric greenhouse-gas
levels. European policymakers have made progress in controlling these
emissions, but US regulations remain inadequate.” A Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change
and Health by Environmental Working Group
Projected change in agricultural
production due to climate change
change affects
through its
effects on the
timing, intensity
and variability
of rainfall and
shifts in
and carbon
(Guardian Apr 13 2013)
Food security in the
face of climate change
Action for students: Read the
executive summary and make a note
of how different issues are linked
Climate change:
Africa, Asia and Oceania
Further info and source:
Impact of climate change,
vulnerability and adaptive capacity: Asia
Source: OECD “Poverty and Climate change”,
Impact of climate change,
vulnerability and adaptive capacity: Africa
Source: OECD “Poverty and Climate change”,
Potential impacts of
climate change on MDGs (1)
Source: OECD “ Poverty and Climate change”,
Potential impacts of
climate change on MDGs (2)
Source: OECD “ Poverty and Climate change”,
Fragile states
Protracted crises
Fragile States “fundamental failure of the state to perform functions
necessary to meet citizens’ basic needs and expectations. Fragile
states are commonly described as incapable of assuring basic
security, maintaining rule of law and justice, or providing basic services
and economic opportunities for their citizens”
Protracted crisis are “those environments in which a significant
proportion of the population is acutely vulnerable to death, disease
and disruption of livelihoods over a prolonged period of time. The
governance of these environments is usually very weak, with the state
having a limited capacity to respond to, and mitigate, the threats to the
population, or provide adequate levels of protection.”
Source and images:;
Fragile states (2)
Fragile states and protracted crises require special and
immediate attention as well as long-term responses to protect
and promote people’s livelihoods, support institutions and
improve food security.
Protracted crises,
agriculture and rural economy
In protracted crises, investment of aid in agriculture and the rural economy is
especially important to support key sectors for supporting livelihoods to support
immediate needs and address structural issues.
Source: Groundswell International “Escaping the hunger cycle: Pathways to resilience in the Sahel”,;
Fragile states
“By 2030 nearly two thirds of the world’s poor will be living in
states now deemed “fragile” (like Congo and Somalia). Much of
the rest will be in middle income countries. This poses a double
dilemma for donors: middle income countries do not really need aid,
while fragile states cannot use it properly.” “Briefing Poverty: Not always with us”, The Economist,
June1st 2013,
“In Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea, human failings mean a severe
drought has tipped millions into famine. It's a textbook case of why
things go wrong. War begets poverty, leaving food unaffordable.
Devastated infrastructure destroys both food production and
the ability to truck in emergency food. The collapse of society
means the effects of extreme weather such as drought cannot be
dealt with. And the fear of violence turns people into refugees,
leaving their livelihoods and social networks behind.”
( )
State Fragility
Index 2011
Countries in
protracted crisis
Action for students:
1. Read FAO’s “Countries in protracted crisis: what are they and
why do they deserve special attention?”
2. What are the common features?
3. How are women and men affected differently?
MSF often works in war zones. This child is talking to
a MSF doctor in Gaza.
© Valerie Babize/MSF [Gaza] 2008
Protracted crises and
food insecurity
Source: FAO Countries in protracted crisis: what are they and why do they deserve special attention?
Crisis threshold,
unrest and conflict
“The big threats
over the coming
decade are the
ones we already
face: conflict
first and
foremost, a
variety of
disasters, and
disruptions. The
climate scientists
don’t talk
seriously of
change over the
course of a
decade.” Christopher Barrett
Further info and Sources:
World Bank Food Price Watch;
The Guardian “Food riot fear after rice price hits high”, 6 April 2008,
Conflict, refugees
and food insecurity
Action for students:
In Southern Sudan, by the Congolese border, MSF teams assist tens of thousands of
Congolese refugees and internally displaced Sudanese fleeing violent attacks by Ugandan
rebel group, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).
1. Look at Photographer Brendan Bannon’s reflections on his visit to the area,
25 August,
2011, 5m24s;
2. Watch a month in focus on the refugee crisis in Southern Sudan
3. Watch Franco Pagetti's film "The Malnutrition that Shouldn't Be" which shows the daily
struggle to survive in Congo's North Kivu region, where conflict is making food fatally
Conflict and drought
Stranded in the Sahel:
Mali and Mauritania
Action for students: Use the resources
below to add to or construct a fact sheet
for a mini case study of food production,
food security, food supply, and the
impact of desertification in the Sahel.
Compare your fact sheet with a partner,
amend your fact sheet if appropriate
Stranded in the Desert:
Conflict in Mali affects Sahel region
Africa Sahel belt region faces 'desperate
food crisis‘
Refugee camp:
Dadaab, Kenya
The Dadaab camps, in Kenya’s north-eastern province, were established 20
years ago to shelter refugees fleeing violence in neighbouring Somalia.
Dadaab holds the shameful title of the largest refugee camp in the world.
Envisaged as a temporary solution to house refugees from Somalia’s civil war,
the Dadaab refugee camps are now 20 years old, and have become a
permanent home for the majority of those who have sought shelter there.
In Dagahaley – one of the five camps of Dadaab – hunger is still a daily reality
for many refugees. In one of MSF’s health posts, hundreds of people have
come to get medical assistance. Years of living without a functioning health
system in Somalia have left their mark.
Action for students: Watch the clip on the refugee camp. Make notes
on the long journey of the refugees.
Also available as a report:
Somalia's refugees arrive
in Kenya
Most families
hungry, and
with little to
no belongings
after making
sometimes a
journey often
on foot
Photos: Lynsey Addario/VII
Make shift shelter
A typical Somali refugee dwelling stands in a makeshift settlement on the
outskirts of the Dagahaley Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Severe
overcrowding in the camp, and the influx of Somali refugees every day has
given rise to informal camps, many of which lack basic services.
Photo: Brendan Bannon
Lynsey Addario/VII
Further info:
Testimonies from Somalia:
Photo: Michael Goldfarb
MSF resource
Conceptual framework
for food and nutrition security
Action for students:
Discuss this framework
and annotate it keeping
in mind
Places, People and
Impact of natural hazards on food security
compounded by human factors
MSF: Contact us or find out more
Visit our website:
About MSF:
Email us: [email protected]
Find us on facebook:
Follow us on Twitter:
Follow us on You tube:
The MSF movement was awarded the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize.

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