For UNCDF, household food insecurity is about more than the absence of food; it is the result of a complex system of vulnerability factors in relation to shocks that destabilize local livelihoods.
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.
Several UNCDF country programmes in sub-Saharan Africa include a thematic focus on food security, including those in Mali, Niger, Mozambique, Burundi and Ethiopia.
Using intergovernmental fiscal transfers, UNCDF’s Local Development Fund earmarks funds for food security to be channelled from the national to the local level. The funds are invested in productive enterprises and local infrastructure to help improve local resilience to food shocks. These include investments in micro-dams, production facilities, feeder roads, food storage facilities, and irrigation infrastructure.
In Mali, for example through the Programme de Lutte Contre l’Insécurité Alimentaire et la Malnutrition dans les Cercles de Nara et Nioro du Sahel (P2N), more than $1.7 million has been invested in local infrastructure to strengthen resilience to food shocks and to promote basic services delivery in two areas using UNCDF’s Local Development Fund. These investments include the construction of 7 micro-dams for irrigation, 3 cereal banks, a health care center, and 4 schools.
A similar UNCDF programme in Niger has seen the rate of non-vulnerable households increase from 14 percent in 2010 to 32.8 percent in 2014. 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.