Expanding the discussion to feed the world

By Santiago Alba Corral, Senior Director of International Development, CARE Canada

Too many people around the world remain wondering when they will eat their next meal.

In 2013, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) celebrated World Food Day under the motto, “Sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition.”

While these words may sound like jargon, they are actually revolutionary in the discussion of how we feed the world’s most vulnerable communities. The fact that the UN is now talking about “food systems” and not just “food” is recognition of the complexity of how we access and enjoy food.

In the past, the concept of food security was strictly focused on issues concerning the access and availability of food. However, more recently, this has expanded to include the quality of that food and how the global systems allow that access.

Ensuring more than one billion hungry people worldwide have healthy food to eat requires considering such important areas as the global price markets, the speculation on food items, and the impact of land-grabbing on the poor.

This discussion moves far beyond food production.

Indeed, the planet already produces enough food; the problem is that we don’t all share equal access.

The role of nutrition and addressing global food systems are key elements of how CARE approaches food security. This requires working with various stakeholders to build sustainable food solutions with an emphasis on gender equality.

To achieve these goals, CARE partners with communities, governments and the private sector to make possible a food market system that benefits all. CARE strives to transform the lives of women, girls, men and boys by building on their own capabilities and desires to ensure the availability, access, use and stability of nutritious food.

But why say “women, girls, men and boys”? Couldn’t we just say “people, households, families”?

No. It’s important to articulate these various segments to make clear that all are integral in finding a solution to global hunger. All too often we forget that women play an essential role in this equation.

According to the UN, by addressing the gender gap (providing equal access to resources, training and decision-making between women and men), the gains in agricultural production alone could lift 150 million people out of hunger. At the same time, research has shown that food security and economic development interventions that lack attention to nutritional outcomes have no impact on the well-being of families, especially women and young children.

Closing the gender gap, integrating nutrition and creating an inclusive and fair global market are not only the right thing to do. They are crucial for ensuring we all have enough healthy food to eat.

CARE Canada has made ensuring families have a sustainable supply of nutritious food an essential part of our work. Learn more.