Applying the Local Food System Concept to LDCs

Along with the FAO, UNCDF participated in the 10th OECD Rural Development Conference where it presented its approach to local food security systems. This approach is aligned with other innovative initiatives which aim to promote a territorial angle to food security related issues.

The Local Food System concept refers to a territorial dimension of the food system. It is already being used widely in North America and Europe, though UNCDF is piloting the concept in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), whereas it has developed a methodology to identify investments and governance mechanisms to promote short food chains. The aim is to reduce intermediation between producers and consumers.

The Local Food System is the territorial framework for intervention and therefore investments. Eight development pathways have been identified, by which the four pillars of food security may be strengthened by targeting relevant stakeholders, bringing together, engaging and leveraging the capacities of local governments, private businesses and civil society. Those pathways define a group of relevant investments that bridge the gaps between production and consumption, help to reduce food waste and smooth availability and accessibility of food at the local level. Strategic investments are defined and financial mechanisms identified to fund those projects. Through a local planning process, catalytic investments are identified as the most relevant for multiplier effects in the local food system.

This methodology is tested in 5 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as a learning mechanism by developing a community of practice, connected with other global initiatives. This component works as a laboratory for testing pioneering and integrated approaches to improve the four pillars of food security. By emphasizing on knowledge management the aim is to work as a “vector of change” for territorial approaches to deepen the impact of its most successful interventions. 

The pilots have a strong component of monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment, with in-depth analysis of selected projects and mechanisms. It is committed to thorough evaluation of the results and impact of its work, not only to strengthen the design and focus of future projects, but also to identify innovative, replicable solutions for territorial approaches to food security that can be scaled up by the public and private sectors.

This component is considered to be a public good. By systematizing and disseminating the wealth of knowledge captured from those pilots, it allows governments and development organizations, to adapt its most promising and innovative development solutions and take them to scale, multiplying their overall impact. This laboratory will contribute to innovative knowledge in the food security field. The knowledge generated is shared with FAO and OECD for better dissemination and south-south network exchanges.