ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security
In some countries, the Thematic Groups have built on and/or replaced the national committees and groups which emerged in 1996-97 in preparation for, or follow-up to, the World Food Summit. In these cases, the terms of reference and agenda of the pre-existing food security groups have been widened to reflect their expanded focus on cross-cutting rural development issues (e.g. Peru, China).
In other countries, Thematic Groups are emerging based on an awareness and appreciation of a complex national situation which is characterised by the existence of several groups engaged in issues related to rural development and/or food security. These groups have sought to reflect and complement local realities by adapting to national circumstances. In some cases, they have sought to build on operational groups, including for instance local consultative groups or round tables (e.g. Bangladesh). In other cases, they are attempting to form their own local area networks to bring together all the relevant pre-existing groups already working in areas related to rural development and food security (e.g. Madagascar).
In Madagascar, where a large variety of both formal and informal thematic and issue groups, focusing on food security, rural development, poverty alleviation, environment, rural credit etc., are already operational with varied membership, the FAO Representative expressed his desire to draw upon rather than to duplicate these pre-existing groups. In response, an innovative initiative to create a local network of functional groups was proposed. Still at the conceptual stage, this local network will be based on two existing groups - Special Programme on Food Security (Programme Spécial de Sécurité Alimentaire) and National Programme on Food Security (Programme National de Sécurité Alimentaire) - that are currently chaired by FAO. However, it will open its membership to new partners and members of other pre-existing groups, concerned with food security and rural development related issues, and seek to bring them onboard in a systematic way.
In some cases, Thematic Groups are creating smaller sub-groups or task forces to focus attention more closely on specific issues related to rural development and food security (e.g. Burundi, Pakistan, Mynamar, Zimbabwe). For instance, sub-groups have been established to deal with issues such as rural employment, nutrition, environment, food insecure and vulnerable groups, emergencies and early warning systems and World Food Summit follow-up. These smaller groups work in more depth on particular issues within the mandate of the Thematic Group and provide their work as inputs to the main Thematic Group. They are usually facilitated by the UN Agency with expertise in the particular issue area and members of one group are not precluded from participating in the work of other groups.
Significant achievements have already been made by many of the Thematic Groups established in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Near East. A number of Groups have already discussed and agreed on an agenda and programme of work, identified priority themes and sub-themes on which to focus and, in some cases, planned or even launched specific activities related to rural development and food security. Such activities have included: definition of production targets for meeting basic food needs of the population; design of strategies to protect most vulnerable groups from nutritional deterioration in periods of economic and political crisis; design of policies to strengthen pro-poor local institutions for improving household food security; compilation of agricultural compendiums to describe recent developments in agricultural investment and donor-funded projects; specification of inter-agency work plans to obtain adequate information on household food security issues needed for advising governments; identification of field projects in support of rural development and/or food security for vulnerable groups; and definition of key concepts in food security and rural development, prioritization of issues for thematic group attention, and commissioning of expert papers on those selected concepts and issues.
The following sub-themes have been suggested by the Network Secretariat, based on the inputs received from ACC members and FAO Representatives, in addition to an assessment of timely and globally important topics in rural development and food security.
The sub-themes outlined above are only suggestions. Thematic Groups are encouraged to identify their own priority themes and sub-themes which reflect national priorities and concerns. Indeed, many Thematic Groups have already selected their own themes and sub-themes based on an analysis of country-level needs and priorities. The following sub-themes are examples of those chosen in some countries:
Go to Countries for a list of countries in which Thematic Groups on Rural Development and Food Security had been set up, or are in the process of being established. See also examples of the achievements already made by Thematic Groups in Countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, China, Guinea, Kenya, Pakistan and Peru.