Access to food: the SDC's commitment to sustainable food systems

Sufficient and adequate food is a human right, yet over 800 million people remain chronically undernourished. The SDC works at various levels to ensure that every person in the world has access to sufficient and adequate food.  

A woman stacking apples in a market with a rich selection of fruits and vegetables
The SDC is committed to diversified production and food systems and access to fruit and vegetables for all. © SDC

The SDC's focus

The SDC aims to achieve sustainable food security for all. That is why it promotes agriculture, markets and food policies that guarantee secure access to adequate food even for the poorest and most disadvantaged sections of the population. In its work, the SDC considers all aspects of the entire food system, 'from farm to fork', which affect food availability and quality.

While direct food aid deliveries play an important role during acute crises, the SDC is increasingly supporting projects that prioritise sustainable and balanced long-term nutrition and functioning local markets. In the event of a crisis, food aid can thus be delivered much more efficiently by focusing on those most in need.

The SDC focuses in particular on the role of women and young people in food production and nutrition. It works to ensure that they have access to resources and education. Young people often seek opportunities in the agriculture or food sector, both in the rural and in urban areas. By providing sound training endeavours in organic farming as well as start-up opportunities for food retailers in towns and cities, the SDC helps to boost economic prospects while also strengthening food systems.

To improve access for all, especially disadvantaged groups, the SDC is active in the following areas:

Right to food

The SDC was actively involved in drafting the UN's Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realisation of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, adopted in 2004, and has since been working to ensure their implementation. A number of countries have subsequently adjusted their policies, legislation and institutions in accordance with the Guidelines. The SDC is also working to ensure that civil society organisations and other stakeholders can monitor compliance with the right to adequate food and tell governments where there is potential for improvement.

Balanced nutrition

The SDC works to ensure that, in addition to staple foods, people also have access to a varied diet. To this end, it supports diversified agricultural production and food systems. Information and awareness-raising work, education, access to safe drinking water, healthcare and proper processing and storage of food also play an important role.

Crop forecasting and insurance

The SDC uses new technologies such as satellite data with radar technology to establish crop forecasting and agricultural micro-insurance. Among other things, crop forecasts facilitate the early detection of food crises, enabling timely intervention to prevent food emergencies and famine. In partnership with the private sector, the SDC develops micro-insurance products for smallholder farmers as well as insurance for countries, against flooding and drought for example. This is important to prevent more people falling even deeper into poverty.

Background

Hunger and malnutrition are major challenges. While the proportion of hungry people in the world fell from 23% to 12% between 1992 and 2015, according to the UN approximately 821 million people were chronically undernourished in 2017.

Sufficient and nutritious food is especially important during the first 1,000 days of an infant's life, otherwise the child can suffer permanent damage. According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, over 240 million children under the age of five are affected by chronic or acute malnutrition and more than 2 billion people are suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiency. To counter this problem, food can be enriched with micronutrients. However, a sounder approach would be to promote diversified agricultural production that provides access to a wider range of foods.

The right to adequate food is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) made this right legally binding. In Switzerland, the ICESCR came into force in 1992.

To improve the overall quality of food systems, the SDC draws particularly on innovations developed by Swiss universities and private companies. Such partnerships range from research into sustainable cropping systems and scientific consolidation of practical experience from the food industry through to the development and application of technological solutions. The SDC helps to disseminate these approaches through international policy dialogue, drawing on its own decades of experience, as well as that of Swiss non-governmental development organisations in agricultural projects and from collaborative work with farmers' organisations.

Documents

Current projects

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Fairmed - Food Aid Swiss Dairy Products (Cameroon)

01.03.2017 - 31.07.2018

Through the usage of food aid in the form of Swiss dairy products, Swiss Humanitarian Aid contributes to the prevention and treatment of malnutrition, undernourishment, and disease. The SDC’s Humanitarian Aid administers the credit granted by parliament for a yearly amount of some CHF 20 million destined for the purchase of Swiss dairy products and their use for the benefit of the needy. Its task is to ensure a sustainable, targeted, and closely monitored food aid.


Soutien au Dispositif National de Prévention et de Gestion des Catastrophes et Crises Alimentaires au Niger (DNPGCCA) – Phase 5

01.05.2016 - 31.12.2019

Au Niger, plus de 3 millions de personnes sont affectées chaque année par l'insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle. Ces crises entrainent les ménages dans un cercle vicieux de pauvreté et de vulnérabilité. Pour faire face à ce défi, les autorités du Niger ont créé un dispositif national de prévention et de gestion des catastrophes et crises alimentaires. La Suisse accompagne ce Dispositif afin de soutenir durablement la sécurité alimentaire des populations les plus vulnérables.


WFP Secondment Protection and Gender Advisor

01.06.2015 - 31.12.2016

In Myanmar especially conflict affected and rural populations suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition; but also extreme weather conditions may increase the situation of food insecurity. In recent years there have been reports on protection gaps in the implementation of WFP programmes and women and children are struggling to receive support. The secondment will provide technical support in the domain of protection and gender to the WFP country program.


JPO Programme, Volées 2013-2018, Humanitarian Aid HA

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2019

The aim of the programme is to increase Switzerland's presence within the UN system. This measure also meets the more general aim of strengthening the influence and quality of Switzerland's political dialogue with the target agencies. The JPO programme will eventually serve to intensify this political dialogue and increase Switzerland's capacity to monitor the work of agencies through direct contact with the JPOs recruited through this programme.

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