Access to food: the SDC's commitment to sustainable food systems

Sufficient and adequate food is a human right, yet over 800 million people remain chronically undernourished. The SDC works at various levels to ensure that every person in the world has access to sufficient and adequate food.  

A woman stacking apples in a market with a rich selection of fruits and vegetables
The SDC is committed to diversified production and food systems and access to fruit and vegetables for all. © SDC

The SDC's focus

The SDC aims to achieve sustainable food security for all. That is why it promotes agriculture, markets and food policies that guarantee secure access to adequate food even for the poorest and most disadvantaged sections of the population. In its work, the SDC considers all aspects of the entire food system, 'from farm to fork', which affect food availability and quality.

While direct food aid deliveries play an important role during acute crises, the SDC is increasingly supporting projects that prioritise sustainable and balanced long-term nutrition and functioning local markets. In the event of a crisis, food aid can thus be delivered much more efficiently by focusing on those most in need.

The SDC focuses in particular on the role of women and young people in food production and nutrition. It works to ensure that they have access to resources and education. Young people often seek opportunities in the agriculture or food sector, both in the rural and in urban areas. By providing sound training endeavours in organic farming as well as start-up opportunities for food retailers in towns and cities, the SDC helps to boost economic prospects while also strengthening food systems.

To improve access for all, especially disadvantaged groups, the SDC is active in the following areas:

Right to food

The SDC was actively involved in drafting the UN's Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realisation of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, adopted in 2004, and has since been working to ensure their implementation. A number of countries have subsequently adjusted their policies, legislation and institutions in accordance with the Guidelines. The SDC is also working to ensure that civil society organisations and other stakeholders can monitor compliance with the right to adequate food and tell governments where there is potential for improvement.

Balanced nutrition

The SDC works to ensure that, in addition to staple foods, people also have access to a varied diet. To this end, it supports diversified agricultural production and food systems. Information and awareness-raising work, education, access to safe drinking water, healthcare and proper processing and storage of food also play an important role.

Crop forecasting and insurance

The SDC uses new technologies such as satellite data with radar technology to establish crop forecasting and agricultural micro-insurance. Among other things, crop forecasts facilitate the early detection of food crises, enabling timely intervention to prevent food emergencies and famine. In partnership with the private sector, the SDC develops micro-insurance products for smallholder farmers as well as insurance for countries, against flooding and drought for example. This is important to prevent more people falling even deeper into poverty.

Background

Hunger and malnutrition are major challenges. While the proportion of hungry people in the world fell from 23% to 12% between 1992 and 2015, according to the UN approximately 821 million people were chronically undernourished in 2017.

Sufficient and nutritious food is especially important during the first 1,000 days of an infant's life, otherwise the child can suffer permanent damage. According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, over 240 million children under the age of five are affected by chronic or acute malnutrition and more than 2 billion people are suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiency. To counter this problem, food can be enriched with micronutrients. However, a sounder approach would be to promote diversified agricultural production that provides access to a wider range of foods.

The right to adequate food is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) made this right legally binding. In Switzerland, the ICESCR came into force in 1992.

To improve the overall quality of food systems, the SDC draws particularly on innovations developed by Swiss universities and private companies. Such partnerships range from research into sustainable cropping systems and scientific consolidation of practical experience from the food industry through to the development and application of technological solutions. The SDC helps to disseminate these approaches through international policy dialogue, drawing on its own decades of experience, as well as that of Swiss non-governmental development organisations in agricultural projects and from collaborative work with farmers' organisations.

Documents

Current projects

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El Niño – helping the people of Lesotho withstand the challenges of climate change

Altext: Two experts and a local farmer in a drought-ravaged cornfield.

01.07.2016 - 31.12.2016

El Niño signifies unprecedented climate catastrophe for the countries of southern Africa. The drought has destroyed millions of hectares of farmland and the population of an entire region faces the threat of food insecurity. Lesotho was the first country to raise the alarm. The SDC has released a million Swiss francs to support the operations of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) which also benefits from the provision of Swiss experts. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lesotho
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Emergency food assistance

01.07.2016 - 31.12.2016


CHF 1'000'000



No quick fixes: building Somalia’s ability to handle and overcome crises

Somali man carrying a bale of hay on his shoulders.

01.08.2013 - 30.04.2016

With the aim of improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable populations in Somalia, SDC is contributing CHF 6 million to the three-year Resilience Programme of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which forms part of the FAO’s overall Somalia programme. With innovative monitoring instruments, risk mitigation measures and through close partnerships, the programme paves the way for a transition from humanitarian interventions to sustainable development in large parts of Somalia, including in the south-central region where humanitarian access to the population in need is highly limited.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Somalia
Agriculture & food security
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Agricultural development
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)
Emergency food assistance

01.08.2013 - 30.04.2016


CHF 7'500'000



Emergency Food and Nutrition Assistance DPRK 2019

18.03.2019 - 31.12.2019

The Emergency Food and Nutrition Assistance DPRK 2019 Project responds to an urgent request of the DPR Korea to extend food assistance to its citizens in 2019, following a poor harvest after a nation-wide heat wave and regional floods in 2018. The assistance will be provided through the World Food Programme (WFP) and targets 50,000 children in the three highly affected provinces of the country, South Hwanghae, Ryanggang and Jaggang for a period of 12 months.


OVCI - Improving nutritional condition of most vulnerable groups in Juba

01.03.2019 - 31.01.2021

Malnutrition among children and other vulnerable groups remains worse as a result of the prevailing food insecurity situation in South Sudan. According to the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for South Sudan, some 1.8 million people – the majority of which are children under five years - face malnutrition. Through this project, Volunteers Organization for International Co-operation (OVCI) intends to address malnutrition of vulnerable children, pregnant and lactating mothers and other destitute persons in Juba County by improving their dietary intake.


Yemen Pledging Conference 2019

20.02.2019 - 30.04.2019

In support of the Humanitarian Response Plan and to reduce the suffering of the Yemeni population, Switzerland will organize a high-level pledging conference on 26 February 2019 together with Sweden and the United Nations for the third time. Since the escalation of the conflict in mid-March 2015, Yemen faced enormous levels of humanitarian needs stemming from years of poverty, intermittent conflict and weak rule of law. Entering the 5th year of war have exacerbated these chronic vulnerabilities, leaving more than 24 million people – more than 80% of the population - in need of humanitarian aid.


Accès aux populations vulnérables grâce au soutien au Service Aérien Humanitaire des Nations Unies (UNHAS)

01.01.2019 - 30.11.2024

L’UNHAS est le service aérien des Nations Unies qui appuie la mise en œuvre d’interventions humanitaires ainsi que du développement économique et social en faveur des populations les plus vulnérables et marginalisées du Niger. L'UNHAS facilite et sécurise au Niger l'essentiel des déplacements des agents des programmes respectifs, leur permettant de rejoindre les régions reculées du pays et leurs populations rapidement et en toute sécurité.


Yemen WFP ICSP, contribution 2019

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises. SDC funding to WFP operations allows the World Food Programme (WFP) to respond proactively and to provide immediate food assistance in life-threatening situations.


Allocation of SDC Funding to WFP Operations in 2019

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises. SDC funding to WFP operations allows the World Food Programme (WFP) to respond proactively and to provide immediate food assistance in life-threatening situations.


Allocation of SDC Funding to WFP Operations in 2019

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises. SDC funding to WFP operations allows the World Food Programme (WFP) to respond proactively and to provide immediate food assistance in life-threatening situations.


Allocation of SDC Funding to WFP Operations in 2019

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises. SDC funding to WFP operations allows the World Food Programme (WFP) to respond proactively and to provide immediate food assistance in life-threatening situations.


Yemen WFP Emergency Operations EMOP 201068 / ICSP, contribution 2018/19

01.12.2018 - 31.12.2019

In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises. SDC funding to WFP operations allows the World Food Programme (WFP) to respond proactively and to provide immediate food assistance in life-threatening situations.


Mali : ACF-E - Projet d'amélioration de la Sécurité Nutritionnelle dans le cercle de Tombouctou - PASEN

01.12.2018 - 28.02.2021

Au Mali, 34 % des cas de mortalité infantile sont associés à la sous-nutrition. Ce taux est encore plus critique à Tombouctou, où la précarité climatique et économique est couplée à l'insécurité. C'est pourquoi, la Suède et la Suisse joignent leurs efforts pour assurer la prise en charge des besoins nutritionnels urgents d'enfants malnutris et pour renforcer les actions de prévention. Pour assurer la durabilité des interventions, le projet prévoit également une implication plus importante des communautés et des institutions locales dans la prise en char e et révention de la malnutrition.

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