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

Sufficient and adequate food is a human right. But some 800 million people are still chronically undernourished. The SDC is working 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. It promotes food systems that guarantee access to adequate food even for the poorest and most vulnerable population sectors.

Direct food aid deliveries still play an important role during acute food crises. But the SDC is increasingly supporting projects that aim to ensure balanced diets during food crises  to enable people to weather crises without food aid.

The SDC recognises the important role played by women in food production and nutrition, and is working to ensure that they have access to resources and education.

In addition, the SDC is active in the following areas:

  • Right to food The SDC supported the 2004 Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realisation of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, participated in the drafting process, and is working to ensure their implementation. Various countries have subsequently adjusted their policies, legislation and institutions accordingly. The SDC is also working to ensure that civil society organisations and other stakeholders monitor compliance with the right to adequate food and tell governments where there is potential for improvement.
  • Balanced nutrition The SDC is working to ensure that in addition to staple foods, people also have access to a varied diet. It supports diversified agricultural production and food systems. 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 supports modern crop forecasting technology such as satellite data and remote sensing. Crop forecasts facilitate the early detection of food crises and timely intervention. Such forecasts are also important in developing micro-insurance products for smallholder farmers, for example to insure them against flooding and drought. 


Hunger and malnutrition are major challenges. According to "The State of Food Insecurity in the World", a report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, about 805 million people were estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012–14. During the first 1,000 days of an infant's life in particular, sufficient and nutritious food is especially important, otherwise the child can suffer permanent damage.

Over 200 million children under age five are affected by chronic or acute malnutrition and more than two billion people are suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiency. To counter this problem, food can be enriched with micronutrients, but 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, 1976) made this this right legally binding. In Switzerland, the ICESCR came into force in 1992.


Current projects

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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.

Secondment Fund Sudan 2016-17

01.01.2016 - 31.07.2019

Despite years of assistance, the humanitarian needs remain acute in several fragile regions of Sudan. This is due to continued armed conflict, lack of human security – especially that of children –, poor food security and livelihoods, and very rudimentary basic services. This consequently leads to ever increasing internal displacement and multiple emergencies. The deployment of Swiss experts (secondees) to multilateral organizations strengthens the effectiveness and the efficiency of the humanitarian response, and bolsters measures for early recovery and better resilience.

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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