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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Mine Action for Human Development in Cambodia 2017- 2025

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2025

Over the past 20 years Cambodia has made significant progress in clearing landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). Nevertheless 1,640 km2 of land remain contaminated as suspected minefields at this moment. SDC plans supporting national and regional mine action initiatives to ensure that development of poor rural communities is no longer impeded by disablement and restricted access to land, forests and water resources due to landmines and ERW.


Responsible Agricultural Investments Leveraging (RAIL) by IFAD

15.12.2019 - 31.12.2023

The International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD is a key partner for Switzerland in the efforts to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. SDC supports the IFAD-led Agricultural Business Capital Fund to finance responsibly African farmer organisations, small and medium agribusiness enterprises, and rural financial intermediaries. The Fund will lead to higher incomes and more jobs notably for youth and women as well as increased food security, contributing to improved livelihoods of an estimated 430’000 smallholder households applying more sustainable farm practices.


African Risk Capacity (ARC)

10.12.2019 - 31.12.2022

The African Risk Capacity is a disaster risk management pool and early response mechanism established by the African Union member states against natural disasters like drought, flood, and tropical cyclones, and the outbreak of highly contagious diseases. Its drought insurance and the new insurance products for flood and tropical cyclones enhance the safety nets of smallholder households and thus contributes to food security in Africa.


UNHAS - Amélioration de l'accès aux bénéficiaires au Mali

09.12.2019 - 31.12.2020

Face à l'insécurité dans de nombreuses régions du Mali, seul le service aérien humanitaire des Nations Unies (UNHAS) permet d'accéder aux populations et de ne laisser personne pour compte grâce à un transport sûr et rapide d'acteurs humanitaires et de développement (nationaux/internationaux) et de l'assistance. Cette contribution à UNHAS garantit le suivi-évaluation des programmes suisses, favorise le développement socio-économique des régions et assure le dialogue avec les partenaires sur place.


Trail Bridge Sub-Sector Program

01.12.2019 - 30.11.2023

The project supports the Government of Nepal to institutionalize trail bridge building under the new federal structure. Due to the ongoing state restructuring process, Swiss support is required for a last phase to ensure the transfer of the institutional and human capacity built-up in trail bridges over the past four decades to the new state and local governments. Walking remains a major mode of travel in Nepal, and trail bridges are still essential for people to access basic public services


Clean Air Project in India (CAP India)

01.11.2019 - 30.06.2027

India is one of the most severely affected countries by air pollution in the world. This project will contribute to India’s new National Clean Air Programme, with the aim to improve air quality with co-benefits on public health, environment and climate change. Capacity building and technical assistance through Swiss expertise will support data measurement and analysis, city level clean air action plans and awareness raising campaigns to take precautionary measures and mitigate air pollution.


Advancing Sustainable Agriculture in Ukraine

01.10.2019 - 31.12.2022

Agricultural production in Ukraine is unsustainable. SDC and Nestlé join efforts to improve agricultural production practices in two selected value chains which will contribute to an improved farm performance and life of farmers. The project will pilot a business model for farm sustainability with 10 farmers and 5 pre-processing lead suppliers. Good business cases showing sustainable farm performance and supply to pre-processors will be disseminated for potential replication.

 


South Sudan, Caritas Switzerland: Restoration of resilience in livelihoods for rural and semi-urban communities in Torit State

01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022

This project is designed to increase the resilience of women, men and children in Torit State in South Sudan. This will be achieved through improving agricultural production and access to value chains for farmers and small scale businesses. In order to improve productivity and reduce water-related diseases, the project will improve access to water. This will ultimately reduce vulnerability to the threat of food & nutrition insecurity, and bring the target population to engage in increased productivity with financial benefit.


Strengthening Agro-biodiversity in Southern Africa (SASA)

01.09.2019 - 31.08.2023

While governments have regional and national seed policies favourable to commercial certified seed

production, these are restrictive on farmers’ seed systems that are diverse and resilient. The project

capitalises on Swiss regional experiences on supporting seed systems in Southern Africa. This will include

the empowerment of civil society, farmers’ organisations and governments in developing inclusive agricultural

policies that ultimately contribute to sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity and improved well-being of

smallholder farming communities.


IGAD Land Governance Programme

01.09.2019 - 31.08.2023

Land is a source for livelihoods and a valuable economic asset in the IGAD region. Drawing on experiences from other land related partnerships at national, regional and global levels, Switzerland supports the Intergovernmental Authority on Development IGAD to translate continental and global land governance frameworks and guidelines into practice in order to improve access to land and tenure security for all, especially for vulnerable groups like pastoralists, women and youth.


Sustainable Livelihoods and Social Development (SLSD)

01.08.2019 - 31.07.2023

Widespread poverty, weak institutions, and scarce public services characterize the environment in the South East of Afghanistan. The project aims to improve the livelihood and resilience of resource-poor and smallholder farmers in the provinces of Paktia and Khost, through improvement of agricultural production, natural resource management, market linkages and through strengthening agricultural service delivery. The project covers a region, which has been deprived of other donor support.


Programme d’Appui à la Production Agricole en Haïti (PAPAH), Phase II

01.08.2019 - 31.12.2024

La phase 2 du Programme d’Appui à la Production Agricole en Haïti vise à renforcer le système national de financement et d’assurance agricoles en Haïti, porté par les institutions publiques et privées et régulé par la Banque de la République d’Haïti. La contribution suisse servira de levier pour mieux structurer et orienter des investissements d’environ USD 340 millions au profit des exploitations dans les chaines de valeur agricoles; dans le Sud et la Grand-Anse, en synergie avec les programmes du portefeuille Suisse, le développement de produits financiers spécifiques servira environ 20 000 exploitations agricoles.

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