Home » World Food Day » Marginalised communities must be at the heart of the response to the food crisis

Ruchi Tripathi

Global Practice Lead Resilient Livelihoods,
VSO International

The current food system is broken and is not delivering for producers nor consumers, with one in 10 people around the world going to bed hungry every day.

Transforming our food systems to support rural livelihoods, care for our environment and produce nutritious food is achievable if we put small scale food producers, particularly women and young people, at the centre of our efforts and support them to produce and sell sustainably.

In Nepal, VSO volunteers supported the localisation of the Right to Food Act; VSO volunteers were placed with 4 municipal governments to support consultations with stakeholders which helped localise the Act.

In early 2020, VSO carried out a wellbeing survey in Nepal, in the context of COVID-19, which showed 80% of respondents found food shortages to be one of the biggest challenges. Based on the findings, the organisation supported the supply of food items to 1,025 families. A key demand from VSO’s partner, National Farmers Group Federation (NFGF), is to ensure greater support for landless and smallholder farmers, including through the identification, categorisation and registration of farmers and entitlement to social security for them.

Developing stronger risk reduction and resilience strategies will address future shocks and stresses to the food system.

Building community resilience

To fight the climate crisis, building community resilience is key. VSO is supporting those most at-risk – including farmers, entrepreneurs and small business owners through investing in agroecology and promotion of local markets.

Developing stronger risk reduction and resilience strategies will address future shocks and stresses to the food system. Community volunteers in the Philippines have been working with women farmers and young people to produce food more sustainably, as well as preserve the environment.

Whilst food systems are heavily disrupted by the effects of the pandemic and the conflict, community volunteers are calling for urgency in the transformation of food systems – moving away from capital-intensive ‘industrial agriculture’ towards greater support for community-based agroecological farming systems. 

Providing real impact

If the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit is to have any real impact in people’s lives and on the planet, they must firstly disinvest from industrial agriculture and invest in agroecology.

They must move away from public funding of agribusiness and large farms to supporting smallholder farmers and micro small and medium enterprises.

Finally, it must put the responsibility of delivery of the right to food onto the state. It must strengthen the voices and power of female food producers and marginalised communities who are at the forefront of the food and climate crisis.

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