|Who's Hungry? And How Do We Know? Food Shortage, Poverty and Deprivation (UNU, 1998, 199 pages)|
Food and nutrition policies tend to be either short (5-10 years) or medium (2050 years) term and to have measurable versus general programmatic goals. We connect here two recent plans to reduce world hunger to our hunger typology and analysis.
The Bellagio Declaration: "Overcoming Hunger in the 1990s"
A significant short-term effort to identify what could be done for hunger by the end of the decade was "Overcoming Hunger in the 1990s." This international NGO effort, promulgated as a Bellagio Declaration in 1989, aimed to reduce half the world's hunger in 10 years. It introduced a focused but multi-faceted scheme that set four achievable (measurable) goals: (1) to end famine deaths, especially by moving food into zones of armed conflict; (2) to end hunger in half the world's poorest households; (3) to eliminate at least half the hunger of women and children by expanding maternal child health coverage; and (4) to eliminate vitamin A and iodine deficiencies as public health problems. The Bellagio Declaration also affirmed food as a human right, and insisted that progress will come only through the joint efforts and energies of grass-roots and community organizations combined with state and international agencies. A five-year report concluded that progress was being made on all except the first goal: conflict continued to be an intractable problem. Progress reported for China, Indonesia, and Thailand contributed to the global downward trend in numbers malnourished and to meeting the "halfway" goals to halve hunger. The mid-decade assessment also suggested that additional investments in women's education and health, clean water, infrastructure, and community organizing would go far toward eliminating hunger in the future (Messer and Uvin 1996). In short, the report, while hopeful, was far from complacent.
"2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment"
The "2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment" initiated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in 1994, aimed to set medium-term priorities and actions to avert a future world food crisis. Concept background papers assembled opposing views on pertinent issues such as ecological resources, population, trade, poverty, and nutrition. The goal of the series was to develop a consensus, among the many parties concerned about world food and nutrition, on a global plan of action to secure adequate food, healthy populations, and sustainable environment for the next century.
Overall, the 2020 project offered a diverse menu of actions that might be taken to prevent food shortage, prevent food insecurity, and meet the nutritional health needs of all the world's people. In their series of six "priority areas for action," number one was "Strengthen the capacity of developing country governments to perform appropriate functions" (IFPRI 1995: 23), which involves both more effective action by governments (in partnership with other sectors) in policy-making and implementation, and also the prerequisite of "improved security and personal safety." Specific actions include giving priority to conflict resolution and prevention in areas where armed conflicts and civil strife are occurring or are imminent. National and international development agencies need to incorporate conflict prevention into programme and project planning, by identifying and then targeting for intervention those areas where the potential for conflict is high, and defusing them by delivering aid in manners that avoid competition and that foster (or demand) cooperation among groups or communities. Conventionally, agricultural research focused on areas of high growth potential, especially when implementing Green Revolution seed-water-fertilizer technologies
that were dependent on good soils and reliable water supply. The 2020 report recommends that the very poorest or seemingly hopeless areas also receive special priority, as these may be areas of high conflict potential; resources should be directed toward these areas that are conflict prone, by finding and promoting "engines of growth" that might overcome and move people beyond perceived scarcities and thereby preclude disruptive and destructive negative growth that has characterized conflict areas over the past three decades.
Other recommendations addressed issues such as more secure agricultural production in manners that promote rural livelihoods and protect environment, aspects of ecological management, and ways to create more efficient and effective markets for agricultural inputs and outputs. A separate recommendation was to improve productivity and health of low-income people, who also need increased access to employment and productive assets.
This vision focuses on sustainable food supply to meet nutritional and environmental goals for the next century. It attempts to expand the agricultural agenda at the same time that it tries not to depart too greatly from its principal mission theme of "food." It leaves priorities to regions or countries.