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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Cameroun: CRf-Accès aux soins et résilience

01.08.2017 - 28.02.2018

Par son appui financier au projet de la Croix-Rouge française, la DDC contribue au renforcement des capacités de résilience des populations affectées par le conflit (hôtes, personnes déplacées internes, réfugiées et retournées) les plus vulnérables socio économiquement tout en garanttissant un accès aux soins de qualité pour les enfants de moins de 5 ans et les femmes enceintes et femmes allaitantes. 



Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS), SIGHT and HALEPP

01.08.2017 - 31.12.2024

With this contribution to the Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS) established by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 2016, Switzerland will contribute to sustainable livelihoods for approximately 5000 Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. The two co-funded projects will also support host communities, in particular poor smallholders breeding small ruminants (Jordan) and smallholders in the dairy sector (Lebanon) to increase their income and food security.


Support to WWF rattan initiative: "Sustainable rattan and bamboo supply chains in the Lao PDR”

01.08.2017 - 31.03.2021

Maintaining high biodiversity in agro-ecosystems contributes to poverty reduction in rural livelihoods. Better knowledge, tools and institutional arrangements are needed to support poverty alleviation and preserve biodiversity. Considering the current development context in Lao PDR, WWF supports the conservation and sustainable economic use of rattan and bamboo, aiming at improving the livelihood of upland farmers and enhancing the policy environment.


Partnership for Forestry and Fisheries (PaFF): Support to Forestry and Fisheries Communities in Cambodia

01.08.2017 - 30.06.2021

SDC contributes to the initiative Partnership for Forestry and Fisheries implemented by a consortium of four NGOs, led by WWF Cambodia. The programme supports rural communities to secure their access to forestry and fishery resources, to improve income and food security through enhanced production practices, and to advance public dialogue on sustainable natural resource management in four least-developed provinces in the northeast of Cambodia.


Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA)

01.08.2017 - 31.03.2022

The project supports the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and its Member States in reducing vulnerability of households to disaster risks by increasing their preparedness for response and recovery and in strengthening their resilience. This will be achieved through institutionalising and sustaining vulnerability assessments and analyses systems that enhance emergency and developmental responses at national and regional levels.


A FONDS: Appui au FOnds Nationaux de Développement du Secteur agricole

01.07.2017 - 30.11.2022

Le Bénin a besoin d’un dispositif national pour le financement du secteur agricole. La DDC soutient l’Etat béninois et le secteur privé dans la mise en place de dispositifs communs et pérennes de financement du secteur. Le but est de renforcer la productivité, la compétitivité des productions agricoles et la résilience des systèmes de productions aux effets des variations climatiques. Ceci devrait contribuer à créer des emplois pour les jeunes.


Support to GRET bamboo initiative: “Strengthening the bamboo and rattan sectors in Lao PDR”

01.07.2017 - 30.04.2021

Maintaining high biodiversity in agro-ecosystems contributes to poverty reduction in rural livelihoods. Better knowledge, tools and institutional arrangements are needed to support poverty alleviation and preserve biodiversity. Considering the current development context in Lao PDR, GRET supports the conservation and sustainable economic use of bamboo and rattan, aiming at improving the livelihood of upland farmers and enhancing the policy environment.


Rural Resilience in Southern Africa / R4 Initiative

01.07.2017 - 30.06.2021

The project builds resilience of smallholder farmer households in three countries in Southern Africa (Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe) by enabling their adaptation to climate risk through a community oriented and market based risk management comprehensive approach. The initiative combines improved resource management (risk reduction), insurance (risk transfer), livelihoods diversification and microcredit (prudent risk taking) and savings (risk reserves). The combined interventions are carefully adapted to each country context.


LEB – Improved Water Resources Monitoring and Integrated Water Resources Management in the North of Lebanon

01.07.2017 - 30.09.2021

For over five years now, the Syria crisis is continuing to affect middle-income neighbouring countries. As a result, Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The weak governance of the Government has been worsened with the burden of the refugees from Syria and Palestine who use the same overstretched infrastructure and public services. The project aims at enabling the water authorities to better manage the water sector for the benefit of the vulnerable communities in the North of the country.



Accompagnement des Organisations Paysannes et développement de systèmes de marchés durables

15.06.2017 - 31.12.2021

Confrontées à de nombreux défis liés aux effets du changement climatique, à la sécurisation foncière et à l’accès aux marchés, les exploitations familiales peinent à améliorer leurs revenus et à contribuer à la sécurité alimentaire nationale. Le programme vise à renforcer les organisations paysannes et à développer des partenariats avec le secteur privé pour accroitre l’offre des services d’appui/conseil aux exploitations familiales et ainsi contribuer au développement économique durable de 75'000 ménages.

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