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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Small Irrigation Programme (SIP)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2024

Swiss engagement through this project assists farmers in doubling their agricultural income through year-round irrigation and better access to markets. Doubling of agriculture income will contribute to poverty reduction and reduce poor farmer’s need to migrate. In addition, Swiss pioneering work in operationalizing federalism, through this project at local level will address issues related to historic over-centralization and social exclusion and will contribute to peace and stability in the country.


Strengthening Drought Resilience in Pastoral and Agro-pastoral Areas of Somali National Regional State, Ethiopia (SDR - SNRS)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

Pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods in Ethiopia's Somali National Regional State (SNRS) are increasingly threatened by environmental (climatic) changes and land degradation. GIZ along with Local Government partners aims at building the resilience of vulnerable pastoralist communities through proven land rehabilitation measures, the promotion of livelihood activities and capacity development of government and private sector institutions.


Support of the UN Con-vention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

1.5 billion people in more than 100 countries are affected by desertification and 42% of the world’s poor live in these areas. 12 million hectares of land are lost by desertification every year. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) links sustainable land management to social and economic development to achieve its goal of combating desertification/land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought. 


Mine Clearance

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

In the past 30 years, Cambodia has cleared over 1,900 km2 of minefields, benefiting approx. 5.6 million people. However, an area of approx.860 km2 is still heavily contaminated. Cambodia aims to be a mine-free country by 2025. The main goal of the Swiss contribution is the clearance of 12.2 km2 of mined areas spread in a long strip of land in northwestern Cambodia that will provide safe access to land and livelihood development directly to 25,000 rural households. 


National Water Resource Management Project in Uzbekistan

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

The project supports the water sector reform through the development of an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) - based strategic framework that ensures equitable and fair water distribution among all water users. This will allow the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) to efficiently and effectively manage water resources leading to increased water productivity and improved livelihoods of the rural population in Uzbekistan.


Migration de travail et développement économique en Afrique de l'Ouest

01.01.2020 - 31.05.2025

La migration en Afrique de l’Ouest est en grande partie intra régionale, et se fait principalement à des fins de travail. Grâce à sa longue expérience en migration et développement (M&D), la Suisse vise à faciliter la contribution des migrant-e-s au développement socio-économique de la sous-région par la voie d'initiatives qui ont trait à leur protection, leur meilleure inclusion dans les zones urbaines, ainsi qu’à leur plus grande implication dans les trajectoires de développement des pays concernés. 


SanMarkS - Scaling up Sanitation Mar-ket Systems in Bangladesh

20.12.2019 - 30.11.2024

Using favourable conditions in Bangladesh, Switzerland will scale-up a market system approach to sanitation by leveraging the private sector. SanMarkS phase-2 will improve the health, livelihoods, dignity and wellbeing of 4.5 million rural people in 35 project districts through the use of improved sanitation services. The successful approach to be scaled up entails strengthening private supply chains for sanitation products and services, stimulating consumer demand and creating an enabling environment for service delivery. 


Promoting efficient, affordable and clean cooling for everyone (PEACCE)

15.12.2019 - 31.12.2023

 

This project addresses increasing heatwaves by providing people of developing and emerging countries with access to efficient, affordable and clean cooling. The project will address both climate change mitigation and adaptation while improving the health, nutrition and productivity of people living in hot climates. This will be achieved by supporting select countries to set ambitious commitments on cooling in their climate policies. Swiss experience on climate-friendly cooling will be shared. 


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

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