Conflict, Climate Change and Covid 19, the terrible trio that exacerbate global food and economic insecurity
According to the United Nations , “Extreme hunger and malnutrition remain an obstacle to sustainable development and create a trap from which it is difficult to escape. Hunger and malnutrition make people less productive, more prone to disease and therefore more often unable to earn more and improve their livelihoods. “Conversely, when people lack economic security because they are dependent on precarious employment or have lost their means of production, they cannot meet their food needs. 690 million people suffer from hunger in 2020, or 8.9% of the world’s population (FAO). Many of these people are in rural areas and yet contribute to feeding the world as farmers, breeders or fishermen. And ironically, people with access to too much food tend to waste it; according to the UN, each year an estimated one third of all food produced, the equivalent of 1.3 billion tons, ends up in the garbage cans of consumers and retailers.
The Global Food Crisis Report 2020  analyzed the main factors contributing to food and economic insecurity and classified them according to the importance of their impact on populations: 1) conflicts and insecurity, 2) extreme climate shocks, 3) economic shocks. To a lesser extent, the following factors also aggravate food and economic insecurity: crop, livestock and human diseases.
The Covid 19 pandemic has changed this situation, making it one of the main causes of hunger and loss of income in the world again. Indeed, in many countries, restrictions on movement affect access to employment, access to means of production (seeds, etc.) or the sale of products. The income, and consequently the purchasing power of many people, is thus greatly diminished. In addition, the various restrictive measures implemented by governments (containment, border closures) have degraded access to food markets and the supply of food products on these markets, whether produced in the country or imported from abroad, sometimes causing price inflation . David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), speaks of the risk of a “famine pandemic” with 270 million people affected . Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator points out that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance will rise from 168 million in 2020 to 235 million in 2021, a considerable increase of 40%.
Conflicts and climate shocks will also continue to be major causes affecting the food and economic security of many populations in 2021. During conflicts, civilians are often deprived of their sources of income, food systems and markets are disrupted, resulting in higher prices and/or reduced availability of food and productive commodities and tools. Conflicts prevent businesses from operating and weaken the national economy. David Beasley estimated in 2017 that about 60% of the world’s hungry people live in conflict zones. 80% of WFP’s budgets are allocated to war zones. Concerning climatic shocks (floods, droughts, etc.), they affect the livelihoods of populations, especially those who are highly dependent on natural resources (farmers, herders). Land is degraded, crops are destroyed, while livestock struggle to find water for drinking and sufficient pasture. Natural disasters also impact productive and economic infrastructure: roads, bridges, dams, buildings, irrigation networks, etc. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that agricultural yields will decrease by 20% per decade by the end of the 21st century in some areas of the Sahel.
The Food Security and Livelihoods Strategy of Solidarités International 2020-2025
Achieving zero hunger in 2030 as desired by the Sustainable Development Goals seems, according to the situation previously exposed, an unattainable goal since world hunger figures are increasing again, whereas they had managed to decrease between 2005 and 2015 . This increase could even accelerate if the current crises, conflicts, natural disasters, pandemics continue to intensify.
Solidarités International has been working in the SAME sector (Food Security and Livelihoods) since its creation with its first food assistance operations in Afghanistan. The general objective of its SAME interventions, recalled in its 2020 – 2025 strategy , is to ensure sustainable food and economic security for populations vulnerable to political, socio-economic, climatic and health shocks.
According to the intervention logic of SOLIDARITES INTERNATIONAL (SI), our SAME activities are part of 3 different phases of intervention to achieve this objective:
How do SAME activities work?
1) Shock absorption: by covering food needs and supporting food markets, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL (SI) helps prevent the risks of hunger and malnutrition and prevents populations from increasing their vulnerability to the crisis.
2) early recovery: through the distribution of productive inputs, technical support and the rehabilitation of economic infrastructure (reconstruction of markets, road rehabilitation, drainage of agricultural fields, etc.), SI contributes to the revival of the population’s economic activities.
3) risk preparedness and adaptation: in-depth analysis of livelihood capacities and vulnerabilities to shocks enables SI to strengthen these livelihoods and diversify them so that they are more resilient. Through the value chain approach, SI strengthens the adaptive capacities of actors along food chains and labor markets.
For 2025, the strategy of the SAME sector focuses on 3 axes:
- Developing our emergency response capabilities, particularly by integrating with our Water-Sanitation-Hygiene (WASH) emergency responses to maximize their impact on populations
- Better alert and anticipate SAME needs in the face of chronic shocks by participating in food and nutrition security surveillance systems.
- Develop the long-term adaptive capacities of food and economic systems, particularly in the face of economic and climatic crises.
SI is well involved in the global Food Security cluster co-led by FAO and WFP, where the association is a member of the SAG (Strategic Advisory Group) . 7] It is the voice of NGOs and contributes to the strategic orientation of this cluster and its accountability to its partners and the populations supported by SAME interventions. SI’s objective is to mobilize as many humanitarian actors as possible in order to find relevant, efficient and sustainable solutions to help reduce food and economic insecurity in the world as quickly as possible.
| How is the search for quality and impact of programs organized at Solidarités International?
SI’s Food Safety and Livelihoods (SAME) unit is part of the Deputy Program Operations Department (DOAP), alongside the Water/Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) and MEAL (Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning) units, as well as cross- functional reference points for the Market-Based Approach and Public Health. This Deputy Directorate guarantees the technical and methodological quality of IS programs. Its mandate is divided into 4 objectives:
To improve the overall quality of IS operations through the development of tools, guides and training, as well as support for the formulation of intervention logics and the demonstration of the impacts of interventions.
Improve IS technical skills by conducting training, technical workshops and developing technical partnerships
Provide direct technical support to field programs on specific technical aspects or at critical phases (diagnosis of needs, strategy, implementation, monitoring-evaluation, development of innovations)
Represent SI’s expertise externally to humanitarian coordination networks or networks for the exchange of expertise and learning (EAH and Food Security Clusters, ALNAP, Global Task Force Cholera, Humanitarian Environment Network, etc.).
Who Is Julie Mayans ?
Trained as an agricultural engineer, she has been working for 15 years in the Food Security and Livelihoods sector (SAME), emergency development responses in Africa, America and Asia with several NGOs (SI, ACF, CARE, TGH and IFRC). She has held several positions in the field: Program Manager, Program Coordinator and also Regional Coordinator.
For the past 6 years, she has been working at Solidarités International’s headquarters as a SAME technical advisor and focal point for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate. Within the technical department, she provides technical support to the field teams in the different phases of the project cycle (needs assessment, project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation). On the other hand, she is responsible for the development and operationalization of the SAME IS strategy and the technical orientations related to this sector. Finally, she represents SI’s SAME expertise externally to the global food security cluster and various inter-NGO working groups (Humanitarian Environment Network, DRR Network, Agriculture Working Group of the cluster).
1] Sustainable Development Goals, UN
2] Global Report on Food Crises 2020: https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000114546/download/?_ga=2.23710714.192553430.1592491272-1602702074.1572458169
3] To go further, see the study of the Covid 19 working group of the Food Security Cluster: https://fscluster.org/sites/default/files/documents/lessons_from_the_wider_industry_with_respect_to_covid_19_and_impact_on_fs.pdf.
4] In addition, the FAO report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020”, although referring to the year 2019, estimated that the Covid-19 pandemic could add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished people in the world by the end of 2020.
5] In ten years, between 2005 and 2015, the number of undernourished people increased from one billion to 800 million, i.e., 200 million fewer people (FAO).
7] For more information, see the SAG webpage of the Global Food Security Cluster: https://fscluster.org/page/gfsc-strategic-advisory-group-sag.