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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Futuro Microbank

15.05.2024 - 31.12.2027

The microfinance institution Futuro Mcb, SA currently provides financial services (loans, savings, insurance) to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) mainly in and around Nampula city. Switzerland will continue to support Futuro with a grant for technical assistance that will help the bank to expand its impact by providing financial services to more low-income entrepreneurs in more regions in Northern Mozambique, thus allowing them to enhance their income and create more jobs.


Scaling Up Youth Employment in Agriculture Initiative

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2028

In Zambia and Zimbabwe, due to a mismatch between the skills they have and those in demand, youth cannot access or create economic opportunities and overlook those available. The project builds skills and matches youth with firms, markets and finance to create more and better (self)-employment in agri-food, renewable energy and emerging sectors, contributing to Swiss priorities on human and economic development and climate change. This is a contribution implemented by SNV.



Restoring livelihoods and revitalizing rural communities affected by mines and explosive remnants of war

01.03.2024 - 31.12.2027

Humanitarian demining is one of the priorities of Swiss international cooperation program. The Federal Council decided that a total of CHF 100 million will be earmarked for humanitarian demining for 2024-2027. SDC will contribute to the restoration of agricultural livelihood activities in areas severely impacted by the war to reduce the need for external support for rural households, small-scale farmers and local producers in three focal oblasts: Kharkivska, Mykolaivska and Khersonska.


UNHAS - Accès aux bénéficiaires en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.03.2024 - 31.12.2027

Dans un contexte d’insécurité alimentaire croissante et d’accès humanitaire précaire au Sahel, le service aérien humanitaire des Nations Unies (UNHAS) permet d’accéder aux populations dans le besoin grâce à un transport sûr et rapide de personnes et de biens. La contribution à UNHAS permettra d’atteindre les populations vulnérables dans les régions reculées ou enclavées et d’assurer le suivi des programmes suisses.


Climate & Socially Resilient Livelihoods’ Support (CSRLS)

01.02.2024 - 30.04.2028

The climatic challenges exacerbate Afghanistan's already fragile socio-economic condition. The project by the Afghan NGO, The Liaison Office, aims to sustainably improve lives and livelihoods of the poorest households in selected provinces by strengthening the natural resource base, climate change resilient and diversified livelihoods, relationships within and between communities, as well as joint climate action.


Accelerating the implementation of international commitments towards locally led humanitarian action 2024-2025

01.02.2024 - 30.06.2025

Locally led humanitarian action, development and peacebuilding (LLHDP) receives greater attention in international cooperation. Switzerland has a long tradition in working on LLHDP but lacks a coherent approach in taking this further. Through initiatives under this credit proposal SDC is making a meaningful contribution to the implementation of international commitments and efforts on LLHDP. This includes greater goal setting and progress on LLHDP, action-oriented research and catalytic actions to address specific blockages across the sector.


CABI PlantwisePlus

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

PlantwisePlus is a global programme that is supporting countries and farmers to predict, prevent and prepare themselves for plant health threats in a changing climate. This will allow farmers to reduce their crop losses and produce more and safer food using agroecological and climate-smart practices that safeguard human health and biodiversity. The programme is implemented by CABI, a leading intergovernmental research and development organization in plant health, with research facilities in Switzerland.


2024 Additional allocation to WFP Country Strategic Plans (NHF)

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

The war in Sudan entered its second year. Sudan is facing a major humanitarian catastrophe. The conflict also affected neighbouring countries, in particular Chad and South Sudan who are already struggling with a dire humanitarian situation that pre-existed before the conflict broke out. The consequences of the war exacerbated the acute food insecurity situation in those countries. With additional funding, SDC reinforces WFP’s emergency response to deliver life-saving food and nutrition assistance in Sudan, Chad and South Sudan.


CAR, UNICEF, Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) 2024

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

The Central African protracted crisis (conflicts, violence, climatic and epidemiological shocks) persists and affects over 50% of the population. Coordinated by UNICEF with the support of UNOCHA, the RRM provides humanitarian monitoring and initiates emergency actions following a human or natural shock. Switzerland’s contribution makes it possible to respond effectively and efficiently to urgent humanitarian needs, in its commitment to Good Humanitarian Donorship.


Tchad-FAO, Assistance aux politiques

08.12.2023 - 31.12.2024

La Feuille de route nationale sur les systèmes alimentaires, la Loi d’orientation agro-sylvo-pastorale et halieutique et la politique semencière sont des documents stratégiques sectorielles importants dans la projection de la politique du gouvernement dont la DDC a contribué à leur élaboration. En soutenant l’élaboration des textes d’application et l’appui au processus d’adoption desdits textes, la Suisse contribue aux réformes diverses permettant d’accélérer les transformations souhaitées pour améliorer les systèmes alimentaires.


Tchad-IOM, Contr. (SUD) 2023

04.12.2023 - 15.06.2024

This contribution aims at supporting IOM’s response to the needs of Chadian returnees having fled Sudan. IOM’s emergency response supports the returnees’ households through a nexus approach, which combines emergency humanitarian assistance (shelter, NFIs, etc,) and livelihood support to reduce their dependency on humanitarian assistance, therefore contributing to local and more sustainable development.

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