Food insecurity is a common global problem but has heightened in the recent months following the ongoing health crisis. According to Schanzenbach and Pitts (2020), food insecurity is the social and economic inability to access adequate and nutritious food supply at a household level. In other words, food insecurity is the unavailability, unaffordability, and inaccessibility of food to all citizens of a country at all times. In 1974, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defined food security as the constant availability of the world supply of basic foodstuffs to support the expansion of food consumption and prevention of fluctuation in prices and production (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021a). Whenever there is a problem of distribution or production, poor households are the most vulnerable to food insecurity.
Food insecurity is a major issue in many underdeveloped countries in the world. 8.5% or about 690 million of the world population are food insecure while amongst them, 5.7 million are children under five years (Schanzenbach & Pitts, 2020). Sub-Saharan regions in Africa lead as the most food insecure with at least 28% of the general population experiencing hunger (Schanzenbach & Pitts, 2020). The most vulnerable population to food insecurity is the low-income earners, the disabled, and the unemployed.
Drought and unequal distribution of food resources are the major causes of the problem. According to Gundersen et al. (2021), short rainfall especially in arid areas results in droughts and food shortage, and the little available food resources are unequally distributed amongst the affected regions. Such poor distribution is caused by racial discrimination practiced in government resource-sharing institutions. Climate change is a major contributor to food insecurity especially by causing reduced rainfall and drought (Gundersen et al., 2021). Carbon emission in the atmosphere makes the earth’s temperatures rise thus reducing the chances of rainfall.
Low income, poverty, and unemployment are other major causes of food insecurity. People living below the middle-class life earn little or nothing thus making it challenging to afford food. Households whose children or other members have chronic health conditions might also suffer from financial shortages which make them food insecure (Gundersen et al., 2021). The last equally significant determinant of food shortage is the lack of affordable housing. People living in communities with expensive houses spend more on rent than on food. They, therefore, lack adequate finances to access plenty and nutritious food.
Purpose and Structure of the Paper
The aim of this report is to analyze how food insecure children are globally. Specifically, the report shows how FAO operates to minimize the impacts of food insecurity. The paper is structured to cover the details of FAO, including the history, mission, and purpose of the United Nations Company, regions in which it operates, and issues addressed. Further breakdown of this topic entails specific issues discussed regarding food security, mentioned cases, and key learnings from the assignment.
FAO, a non-profit making organization purposes to reduce hunger in the world by making communities’ food secure. The organization operates in many countries where it investigates and offers long-term solutions to food insecurity in generally affected households. FAO addresses the issues of food security, agriculture improvement, and adaptation of climate change. The institution operated several projects in countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Peru, and Paraguay. In Indonesia and through the AMICAF project, the firm investigated the food insecurity and effects of climate change.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
About the Institution
FAO is a UN agency that specializes in defeating hunger, improving nutrition, and providing food security. Found on October 16, 1945, by activist and agriculturalist, David Lubin, the company has its headquarters in Rome, Italy (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021a). The organization was founded in Quebec City in Canada and has grown to an international level in the past few decades. The institution was formed by 42 countries but many others later joined the intent to find a food secure world.
The vision of the firm is to reduce rural poverty and food insecurity by ensuring enabling food and agriculture regulatory framework and policies, forestry and fisheries, and sustainable securing increased food supply and availability. The mission of FAO is to “achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives” (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021a). FAO further aims at enhancing and conserving the natural resource base while generating agricultural and food knowledge.
The purpose of the UN institution is to meet three major goals alongside their challenges. The first goal is to ensure access to sufficient nutritional and safe food while reducing the number of undernourished by half (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021a). The second goal for FAO is to continue the contribution of sustainable rural development and agriculture including social and economic progress, forestry, and fisheries to ensure well-being for all people (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021a). Lastly, the firm tends to offer improvement, conservation, and adequate utilization of natural resources such as water, land, food resource, and agriculture. To achieve these goals, the company must rely on its core set values and closely lean on its mission and vision.
Operating Regions and Issues Addressed
Although 194 countries are members of FAO, the company only operates in 138 of them with 88 sub-regions in the main nations. The organization addresses various concepts about stability and volume of food supply. It obtains data from various sources including World Bank about hunger and poverty to access most food insecure communities (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021a). Upon concluding, the company develops a strategic mission to curb further hunger and poverty in the region. FAO focuses on household levels of chronic poverty and hunger as they are the real stems of food insecurity. In these levels, both under nutrition and sub-nutrition cases of insecurity are merged as one problem.
FAO with the support of UN missions cross-check most food-insecure countries and respond to their needs first before the least affected. Some of the data used to determine the most affected countries are consumer expenditure, distribution of national income, and food balance sheets of different countries (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021a). The global cross-sectional comparison of countries’ data estimate levels of chronic food insecurity. Particularly, when collecting food insecure children, the organization looks at the children with malnutrition and those from poor backgrounds.
In various countries, the organization addresses many issues including world agriculture watch which involves watching agricultural trends, challenges, and gaps through which the institution can improve agriculture. FAO also monitors and implement various strategies to reduce carbon emission caused by climate change (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021a). It supports the promotion of sustainable soil management; strengthening natural resources, and efficient agricultural water use among others. The UN organization promotes better uses of water by providing agricultural use to produce nutritional food. Most vulnerable regions receive training about ways to cope with the scarcity of food and agricultural knowledge.
The activity undertaken by FAO
The chosen FAO activity is “Analysis and Mapping of Impacts under Climate Change for Adaptation and Food Security (AMICAF).” The project intends to fill the informational gap between academic and climate change through impacting assessments and decision-making processes (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). The AMICAF project deploys a multi-disciplinary assessment technique to address adaptation and effects of climate change and to ensure security of food. The approach warrants that there is an evidence base to guide the decision-making process and that of policy planning. The activity supports investments, decisions, and strategic planning by national policymakers. AMICAF project is implemented in different countries including the Philippines, Peru, Indonesia, and Paraguay.
The project design employed in the change process ensures that there is sufficient base of evidence showing the climatic change effects and vulnerabilities. The project has so far been implemented in two phases, from 2012 to 2015 and 2015 to 2018 respectively (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). In the first phase, Peru and the Philippines were the recipient countries while Indonesia and Paraguay received the second phase. The framework of AMICAF has four elements that support the recipient nations to address food insecurity brought by change in climate.
The first component examines climate change effect towards agriculture. The nationwide assessment involves an examination of climate change’s impact on agriculture at sub-national levels to gain evidence for adaptation process (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). The element formulates policy questions based on the regions to collect evidence. An example of the questions asked include are some regions more affected by river flow changes than others? The policy questions also determine the regions most affected by productivity change and levels of temperatures and precipitation.
The second elements analyze the vulnerability of various communities to climate change. The analysis is done at the household level by determining the most vulnerable locations. The level of vulnerability is characterized by the food insecurity presence and corresponding variables. The policy questions formulate check to find out the most food-insecure households and necessary resources to be allocated in the regions (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). The other component seeks to enhance the capacities of risky communities to adapt to global warming. The aspect integrates or links the vulnerability and impact assessment with region-based adaptation analysis. However, this concept is only applicable to Asian countries, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The last constituent is a guide to be used in supporting adaptation planning. The approach facilitates the recipient governments with plans to adapt climate change based on the data collected in aspects 1, 2, and 3. The output also ought to support institutionalizing the assessment of vulnerability and impact of climate change (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). It guides the countries in subsequent adaptation planning for change of climate and food insecurity. In other words, the element is a guide for the recipient countries on how to secure food and adapt to climate change but only applicable for Asian recipients.
Amongst the archipelago countries, Indonesia is the largest based on population and area. In the nation, agriculture is the major source of employment especially in rural areas where poverty is prevalent. Consequently, climate change poses a threat to the security of food for the nation so managing the risks of changing climate is critical. FAO office is located in Jakarta, Kupang, and is currently running over 650 projects (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). Since 2015, FAO has worked in Indonesia alongside other partners including IAARD, PAGASA, UP-NIGS, DLSU, and MINAGRI through AMICAF whereby the four elements were employed.
FAO has set six workshops between 2015 and 2018 but the focus is on the climate downscaling training performed in March 2017. The AMICAF project planned a statistical climate downscaling training in the country between 6 and 10 March 2017 (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). The participants were the staff of different institutions including BMKG, IAHRI, ICASEPS, and ICALRRD. The FAO trainer came from Cantabria University in Spain and used a statistical downscaling portal from Santander Meteorology Group.
The staff was introduced to climate change downscaling and modeling methodology. Taught on the first day, the topic provided the method of downscaling climate change for food secure nations (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). The rest of the training days involved a hands-off type of leadership amongst the group teams. This leadership strategy ought to allow all members of staff to participate in the methodology change with minimal supervision. The final objective discussed was on how to generate at least 20170 downscaled climate change projects (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021b). These projects would reduce temperatures and participation in the 22 selected stations in the country. The training was a way to empower various institutions to model and reduce climate change in Indonesia. The climate downscaling training was the second workshop but its final results were shown in the 6th workshop in 2018. Some of the suggestions include the creation and improvement of watershed infrastructure, certified and adaptive seeds varieties, and agriculture machinery.
Key Learnings from the Assignment
Assessing AMICAF would involve looking for fluctuation of the rate of food security and change of climate in the targeted areas. The activity was finished in 2018 so by today, it would be possible to either see the success or failure of the project. Reduced levels of temperatures and precipitation would mean success for the policies suggested. Such reduced climate change impact would mean a more food secure society. Considering the dependence of agriculture in the country, I would say that the project was effective. AMICAF aimed at changing the agricultural methods to conform to the changes in climate and make the targeted areas food secure. The activity also provides suggestions for policies through which to alter climate change.
I learned that unlike other UN organizations including WFP who offer food donations to the food insecure, FAO rather focuses on a long-term goal. The institution instead of providing food to the hungry offers knowledge on how to produce more food to avoid food insecurity. When I was starting to research FAO, I expected to see how the organization donates food in various countries to end hunger. However, I later noticed the contrast whereby the company rather offer help in investigation and policy development to reduce the effects of food insecurity. FAO is humanitarian in its unique way and chooses to investigate food insecurity problems and offer long-term solutions. For example, in Indonesia, the organization recommended the use of agricultural machinery to produce more food in agriculture-dependent agriculture.
To ensure food security in my community, I would suggest some practices recommended by FAO to Indonesia. Application of agricultural machinery in farm preparation and harvest would significantly increase food supply in the region. Improving the use of water for farming through increased irrigation schemes would also fit my region. Relying on seasonal rainfall to farm is not enough so irrigation should also be considered. Irrigation water can be used to produce both organic and inorganic food fit for human consumption. Another way to contribute to my society would be improving the access to climate information. Knowledge about climatic changes would help the community know how to adapt to it and ways of securing food for their families.
I have learned several things from the assignment and one of them is the seriousness of food insecurity amongst children. Interestingly, more than 5 million children are food insecure globally. This problem also reveals the need to invest more in agriculture and strategies to avert climate change. Other than other causes of low farm produce, farming is reduced by the farmers’ lack of agricultural knowledge. Learning various ways to improve farming amongst the most food-insecure households could help to reduce hunger. I have also learned that much weight needs to be put on the need to alter climate changes. The adverse effects of changes in climate are major contributors to food insecure world. Both in developed and underdeveloped countries, applying strategies to reduce carbon emissions would reduce the level of food insecurity.
Lastly, I learned that FAO focuses on long-term humanitarian projects which provide long-lasting solutions to food insecurity. The organization offers more than statistical data to affected countries but also suggests resolving policies. However, it is unclear whether FAO follows the implementation of such policies. If the policies are not sufficiently implemented, FAO efforts would go to waste and the same problem would continue to press the affected countries.
Food and Agriculture Organization. (2021a). About FAO. Web.
Food and Agriculture Organization. (2021b). Analysis and mapping of impacts under climate change for adaptation and food security (AMICAF). Web.
Gundersen, C., Hake, M., Dewey, A., & Engelhard, E. (2021). Food insecurity during COVID‐19. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 43(1), 153-161. Web.
Schanzenbach, D., & Pitts, A. (2020). How much has food insecurity risen? Evidence from the census household pulse survey. Institute for Policy Research Rapid Research Report. Web.