Almost 800 million people around the world suffer from food insecurity. Although food insecurity is decreasing overall, it remains very high, particularly in Asia and Africa. Poverty, gender disparities, environmental degradation, and low institutional capacity are among the underlying causes.
What Do We Do?
Because UNCDF has traditionally operated in rural areas, and given its expertise in working with local authorities – the tier of government most likely to understand local conditions affecting food security (weather and crop planting patterns, local trade flows, and causes of chronic and transitory food insecurity) – food security has become an essential element in its approach over time.
By strengthening local capacities for integrating food security concerns into planning and budgeting, and by providing the financial instruments needed to make investments that strengthen local resilience to food shocks, UNCDF creates a more sustainable environment for dealing with food security issues at the local level.
Using intergovernmental fiscal transfers and other sources of public and private finance, UNCDF’s Local Development Fund earmarks funds for food security to be channelled from a national to a local level. The funds are invested in production enterprises and local infrastructure to help improve local resilience to food shocks. These include investments in micro-dams, production facilities, roads, storage facilities and irrigation infrastructure.
In Mali, for example, the Programme de Lutte Contre l’Insécurité Alimentaire et la Malnutrition dans les Cercles de Nara et Nioro du Sahel (P2N) aims at improving local authorities’ capacity to mainstream food security concerns into the local planning and budgeting process.
In 2014, more than $1.7 million was invested in local infrastructure to strengthen resilience to food shocks and to promote basic service delivery in Nara and Nioro using UNCDF’s Local Development Fund. These investments include the construction of a health care center, four schools, 7 micro-dams for irrigation and 3 cereal banks.
A similar programme in Niger has seen the rate of non-vulnerable households increase from 14 percent in 2010 to 32.8 percent in 2014 in the Mayahi Department where the programme is implemented. Simultaneously, the rate of malnourished children under 5 has been reduced significantly, from 43 percent to 16.12 percent in the Mayahi region in Southern Niger.
Agriculture is a major source of livelihood throughout the world, especially for the majority of poor people living in rural areas in developing countries. For most poor rural farmers in developing countries, lack of access to finance is a key impediment to improving production efficiency and adopting better technologies.
The agriculture sector accounts for about 40 percent of worldwide employment. Estimates are that food production in developing countries will need to double to feed the 2050 population. Investment in the agricultural sector is critical for driving global economic growth.
Building on its work promoting financial inclusion as a key enabler of poverty reduction and inclusive growth, in 2014 UNCDF explored opportunities to support governments’ efforts to develop the enabling environment create more inclusive and effective policies, and better disseminate information across sparsely populated areas.
In particular, through its Making Access Possible (MAP) diagnostic and planning framework, UNCDF undertook diagnostics in Lesotho, Mozambique, Myanmar and Swaziland to determine how agriculture and agriculturebased activities drive household livelihoods in low-income countries.