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FAO advocates for social protection to reduce food insecurity

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th October 2015 06:47 PM

AS the world prepares to mark World Food Day on Friday, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the UN has urged countries to offer social protection in order to help reduce poverty and food insecurity.

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A woman is served a ration of maize in Karamoja. File Photo

AS the world prepares to mark World Food Day on Friday, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the UN has urged countries to offer social protection in order to help reduce poverty and food insecurity.

By Joyce Namutebi                                       

AS the world prepares to mark World Food Day on Friday, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the UN has urged countries to offer social protection in order to help reduce poverty and food insecurity.


FAO contends that although the shares of people living in poverty and extreme poverty have declined over the past three decades, the numbers remain high, with almost one billion people considered extremely poor and another billion poor.

FAO’s latest report “The State of Food and Agriculture 2015” was launched on Tuesday.

Social protection, FAO said, encompasses initiatives that provide cash or in-kind transfers to the poor, protect the vulnerable against risks and enhance the social status and rights of the marginalized – all with the overall goal of reducing poverty and economic and social vulnerability.

Social protection, the report said, includes three broad components: social assistance, social insurance and labour market protection.

Social assistance programmes are publicly provided conditional or unconditional cash or in-kind transfers or public works programmes while social insurance programmes are contributory programmes that provide cover for designated contingencies affecting household welfare or income.

Labour market programmes provide unemployment benefits, build skills and enhance workers’ productivity and employability.

Throughout the developing world, about 2.1 billion people, or one-third of the population, receive some form of social protection, according to FAO.

In Uganda, national celebrations are to be held in Kabarole. The chairperson of the parliamentary committee on agriculture, Mathias Kasamba said every person must have food in the right quantity and quality and urged leaders to mobilise and ensure food security in every home, community and the country.

Extreme poverty has fallen substantially in many regions, especially in East Asia and the Pacific as well as in South Asia, FAO said although in sub-Saharan Africa, little progress has been made and almost half the population is extremely poor.

“Extreme poverty is disproportionately concentrated in rural areas, and the rural poor are more likely to rely on agriculture than other rural households, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is the poor’s reliance on agriculture for their livelihoods and the high share of their expenditure on food that makes agriculture key to poverty and hunger alleviation interventions.”

World Food Day is celebrated every year around on October 16 in remembrance of the date of the founding of FAO in 1945. 

In 2013, social protection helped lift up to 150 million people out of extreme poverty, that is, those living on less than $1.25 a day.

FAO explained that Social protection allows households to increase and diversify their food consumption, often through increased own production. “Positive impacts on child and maternal welfare are enhanced when programmes are gender sensitive or targeted at women.

This is especially important because maternal and child malnutrition perpetuate poverty from generation to generation.”

“A growing body of evidence shows that social assistance programmes not only prevent households from falling into deeper poverty and hunger when exposed to a shock but, by helping the poor overcome liquidity and credit constraints and manage risks more effectively, it also allows them to invest in productive activities and build assets.

When well implemented, social protection can also facilitate increased investment in farm production activities, including inputs, tools and livestock, as well as in non-farm enterprises, the report said. “Even relatively small transfers help the poor overcome liquidity and credit constraints and provide insurance against some risks that deter them from pursuing higher-return activities.”

It said that cash transfers increase the purchasing power of the poor, who demand goods and services largely produced in the local economy. Moreover, such additional income contributes to a virtuous circle of local economic growth

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