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FAO and OAS: Social Protection is a Key Element in the Fight against Hunger

  May 29, 2012

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Organization of American States (OAS) today declared in a joint statement on social protection and food security that social protection is a key element in the fight against hunger. Just days before the 42nd General Assembly of the OAS in Cochabamba, focused on the central theme of “Food Security with Sovereignty in the Americas,” the two organizations highlight in their declaration the important link between food security and social protection, and point out the need to encourage the coordination between sectors and the institutional strengthening needed to make possible food security in the Americas.

“Social protection requires national agreements to develop politics and programs which promote access to permanent adequate nutrition. This is consistent with the commitment assumed by countries in the framework of the Latin America and the Caribbean without Hunger Initiative,” said Alan Bojanic, Deputy Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of the FAO.

The declaration sets out a common position for the work of FAO and the OAS in the framework of the Inter-American Social Protection Network, a community for the exchange of experiences and knowledge of social protection established in 2009. "The Inter-American Social Protection Network will facilitate cooperation between countries of the Americas in social protection and food security," said Jorge Saggiante, OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development.

Right to food and social protection

“A comprehensive social protection system allows for the protection of decent and adequate levels of living for the population and strengthens the autonomy and capabilities of citizens for their economic and social inclusion,” the statement says. This is necessary in order to consolidate an institutional system of guarantees for the realization of the human right to food, the main obstacle to which lies in the region’s social inequalities. The declaration also sets forth the need for medium and long term plans for the promotion of more equitable, efficient and transparent food markets, policies supporting social and economic inclusion, and comprehensive strategies of local development.

Toward a social protection strategy in the framework of food security

In the declaration, the OAS and the FAO emphasized four key components in carrying out an adequate social protection strategy to strengthen food security:

I. Focus on coordination between sectors: Hunger is a multidimensional problem and its elimination necessarily involves wide-ranging interventions and increasing efforts for intersectoral coordination between social, production, and local development policies.

II. Direct assistance programs through transfers: For a significant part of the poorest population it is not always possible to secure a decent standard of living. Transfer programs allow for the strengthening of access to food by the more vulnerable among the population.

III. Instruments to protect and foster rural development and family farming: Policies and programs are required for the economic and social inclusion of the most vulnerable in rural areas to enhance access to basic production assets (water, land, labor, inputs), and technology transfer systems.

IV. Labor market regulation: the shortcomings of the labor market, as well as its informality and precariousness is one of the causes of poverty and food insecurity. Advances must be made in the formulation of agricultural and nonagricultural employment, along with strengthening the enforcement of labor laws and access to social security.

The Joint Declaration: “Food Security: A Priority for the Inter-American Social Protection Network” is available here.

Reference: E-193/12