Global Human Rights

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One of the most constantly talked about right in the global human rights documents is the right to food, however it is the one largely repeatedly violated in the recent past. Goals set in 1996 by the World Food Summit for hunger reduction have mostly failed, even though food production globally having grown quicker than the world population. International, national and the human security aspects are more and more converging, and in some areas overlapping. About 840 million people globally are malnourished, the biggest proportion of these numbers being found in Africa. The degree of the crisis in Africa has currently reached unparalleled crisis levels; World Food Summit (2002) that several 38 million people, in Africa face “an urgent and impending threat to their security, stability and peace”.

The reasons as to why action plans addressing food security in Africa have continued to fail can be accredited to defective analysis and defective actions. What is required is a comprehending which goes beyond conservative, traditional wisdom in order to work extra strategically in formulating and implementing effective and successful, global, national and also regional policies. Accessibility, availability and affordability are each aspects of food security, difficult issues which encompass a broad scope of interconnected social, economic and political issues, internal aspects and external aspects, which challenges Africa's capability to tackle food security in the continent. Ultimately hunger or lack of food is a political making which should be ended through political ways. (Rajalakshmi, 2002)

Global aspect

Globally, the trends of food shortage are disturbing as development in reduction of hunger in the third world countries has gone down and in many regions the figures of malnourished people is really growing, in spite of the actuality that global food production has developed quicker than global population in the last 3 decades. The most recent approximates that about 840 million persons were malnourished between 1998 to 2000; 11 million people in the industrialised nations, 30 million people in nations in transition, and a whopping 799 million people in the developing countries, this is according to FAO (2002)

In the 1996, World Food Summit (WFS) gave a goal of a reducing the number of starving people at least by 20 million each year from 2000 to 2015. Whilst a few regions made remarkable growth over two decades previous to 2000, signifying that food shortage is not a stubborn crisis, (World Food Summit, 2002) the recent figures on statistics of under-nourished global disclose that as from the 1996 World Food Summit, the average yearly decline has been merely 2.5 million, which is far less than the goal set by WFS of halving the figure of under-nourished people by the 2015. Advancement needs to be speed-up to 24 million people annually, approximately ten times the present pace, in order to attain that goal. (World Food Summit, 2002)

Sub-Sahara Africa food shortage; is it a wilful problem?

Economic experts revels that, the Africa's resources exceed its requirements by far, and however, there is so much food shortage. It is a paradox that countries (African) which have millions of starving people export foodstuffs to other countries which have well fed people. How is it that, Sub-Saharan African countries which are poor having a lot of starving people, appears to be capable growing food fairly plentifully? What is it that will assure better food security in the sub-Sahara Africa and in deed in the whole world?

In1970s and 1980s, food security resolutions proposed were entirely technological, emphasizing production instead of equitable allocation of food for the people. This solution failed, since food shortage problem is not a technical problem. Population strains have been viewed as a source of world food shortage; it might be an infuriating factor, however it is not a source. Climate and Weather have also been a suitable excuse, however large quantity of food can and does exist along famine even where there is natural risks. (Madeley, 2002)

In 2002 in Abuja, Nigeria a global convention on food security which was attended by 8 regional groupings in Africa was held there, to look for immediate solutions to manage Africa's harsh food disaster. At the Nigeria conference, FAO director general Jacques Diouf, emphasized the harshness of the disaster in the African agriculture sector and the requirement for immediate in finding a method out of the food troubles. (Diouf, 2002) Action programmes to tackle food security have continuous been falling well short of their targets and goals. Wrong analysis has resulted to wrong actions; what is required is an comprehending which goes beyond conservative, traditional wisdom is required in managing the current food shortages in Africa, and in particular Sub-Sahara Africa which is badly hit. (Diouf, 2002)

Definitions of food security

Importance in food security has increased and decreased over the past, specifically regarding the changes in extent and the nature of food crisis global. The 1975, UN meaning of food security mirrored the feeling of the time, which centred on sufficient production of food at global and the national stage. This was the conservative viewpoint of food as a main requirement. Food security is, however, an issue of both unlimited food availability and also unrestricted accessibility to food. Amartya Sen has been accredited with starting the paradigm shift early on in 1980s which brought spotlight to the question of accessibility and right to food. (Madeley, 2002) Food insecurity presently is not simply seen as a failure of the agriculture sector to produce adequate food at the national stage, however instead food insecurity is seen as failure of livelihoods to be guaranteed accessibility to enough food at the family level. At present, most widespread food security definitions start with individual right, by acknowledging the complex inter-linkages among the individual, the family, the society, the country and the global community. The 1996, ‘Rome Declaration on World Food Security', food security is described as:

Food which is obtainable at every moment, to which every person “have means of access that is nutritionally adequate in terms of quantity, quality and variety, and is acceptable within the given culture” (FAO, 2002)

Availability, accessibility and also affordability are each aspects of food security, intricate issues which covers a broad range of interconnected social, economic and political aspects, internal and external, that challenges Sub-Sahara Africa's capability to in addressing food security. (Grunwald, 2003)

Analysts in general believe that Sub-Sahara Africa's present food crisis are the outcome of an amalgamation of problems which ranges from droughts and bad weather patterns and civil conflicts, to politico-economical crises, HIV/AIDS and also bad policy making. No solitary factor is exclusively responsible. Sub-Sahara Africa is not an unfamiliar to natural hazards, except in the recent past a very vast region has been affected by droughts and civil conflicts and many countries lacked strategic food reserves. Sub-Sahara Africa also has a far bigger number of dependents and higher child-headed households, as a result of HIV/AIDS. What is indisputable is that “Sub-Sahara Africa's constant susceptibility is possibly owing to failure of understanding and also failure of interventions”. (Grunwald, 2003)

Natural hazard- famines

Frequent droughts in Sub-Sahara Africa are an elementary component of the climatic condition of the region, where normally there is a remarkably high inconsistency in rainfall and temperature. other main variables which influences the present crisis in Sub-Sahara Africa is not merely the drop in production caused by of uneven weather patterns, mainly drought, but also the floods, however the extent and regularity of severe occurrences is rising. An FAO research has forecasted that climatic changes will cause harsh droughts in Sub-Sahara Africa and that by 2010 an extra 5 million Sub-Sahara Africans might be affected by food shortage. (FAO, 2002)

Environmental factors affect agriculture heavily, and in turn agriculture has a considerable effect on environment. There are growing reports of deforestation, land degradation, and water logging contributing to declining capacity of Sub-Sahara Africa to feed itself. (FAO, 2002

Whereas the concern of food security in Sub-Sahara Africa is directly related to climatic changes and unpredictability, climate is not the only determinant of harvest, nor is physical environment the single crucial thing in determining food security Sub-Sahara Africa. (FAO, 2002


Conflict and drought frequently interrelate very much; there are is an increasing number of fresh and deteriorating conflicts which are increasingly aggressive and prolonged, for example in Sudan and Chad almost all countries which has suffered drought in the last 20 years has also suffered a conflict at the same period. While Sub-Sahara Africa has experienced a lot of droughts in the past, they were usually managed with sound effectiveness. However, combination of conflict and famine has caused extensive suffering and death.

Conflict and political turmoil are main contributing aspects to food shortage, the effect being felt at family and national stage. At most agricultural activities are interrupted, however in prolonged conflicts such as Sudan and Somalia, production is destroyed. Additional direct economic consequences include price changes for essential commodities, closing of markets, poverty and dislocation, interruption of trade and aid movements. (World Food Summit, 2002)

Famine might not just be a side-effect of conflict; it might also be a tool of war. There are lots of cases in Sub-Sahara Africa of political interfering; some groups might be highly susceptible because of calculated unresponsiveness or even ill-treatment by the regime, added with absence of political authority of these groups. A lot of evidence in Sudan indicates extensive starvation as a result of aid organisations lacking to access those in needs, and also of intentional victimisation from the government. (World Food Summit, 2002)

There are also a lot of factors which aggravate emergencies that undermine the production of food and also economic accessibility to food. (World Food Summit, 2002)

Structural poverty

Widespread and utter poverty and starvation are worsening in sub-Saharan Africa, yet improving in almost all other regions. About half the total population of sub-Saharan Africa lives under the global poverty level, a higher proportion than anywhere else. Sub-Saharan Africa has got the highest occurrence of malnutrition and has indicated diminutive improvement in dropping this in the past 30 years malnutrition is a core demonstration of poverty, and as the poverty level worsens, food becomes extra significant than ever before. It intensifies other sides of poverty through reducing the capability to work and individual resistance to infection, and through affecting children's mental growth and educational accomplishments. (WFP, 2002)

Hunger and food insecurity are closely correlated to poverty and also an incapability to buy food. Fighting food shortage cannot be resolved through merely producing more food. Famines have happened even where there is lots of food. Many people purchase food instead of producing it; indeed incredibly few people, comprising small-scale farmers, are wholly self-adequate in food production. What is happening in Sub-Sahara Africa, in specific, is that there is poor harvest, thus individuals have undertaken to sell off livestock and assets to purchase food. (WFP, 2002)

Decreased fresh water availability, related with possible declines in rainfall amounts, is raising the danger of contamination of water. It is necessary to note the relationship among under-nutrition, absence of potable water and cholera or diarrhoea, which is one of the world's five major killers. (WFP, 2002)

Land tenure security is also a determinant of food production; land is a critical resource for a lot of people for them to get away from poverty. Land distribution in sub-Sahara Africa is very unequal that land reforms and also land redistribution is necessary if there is to be any key poverty reduction. Land reform agendas have huge possibility to raise agricultural production; however it is important that reforms be go along with all-inclusive programmes of agriculture reforms including access to credit services, savings and also markets in rural regions if they are to deeply level out the inefficiencies of disparities. (WFP, 2002)


The recent food shortage crisis is inextricably correlated to the prevalent HIV epidemic which has worsened the calamity. Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst hit section, with 9% of the total population infected with HIV/AIDS. In Southern Africa, infection rates average about 25% of the total population, while 58% of the affected are women, where women take part in agricultural production, food security at the family and society stage is being gravely threatened. Every dimension of food security; availability, access, stability and food use; are impacted where the HIV/AIDS prevalence is high. Farming abilities are being mislaid, agricultural growths efforts are falling short, rural incomes are disintegrating, industrious ability to toil the land is decreasing and family earnings are declining. In ten most affected Sub-Sahara African nations, labour force reduction ranging from 10 to 26% are predicted. The UN approximated that 9.6% of the Zimbabwe's farming labour force was mislaid in 2000. (Oxfam, 2002)

In specific the connection of HIV/AIDS to food security in Sub-Saharan Africa is bi-directional: susceptibility and food insecurity feeds into the risk behaviour which steers the HIV/AIDS endemic; and the affect of HIV/AIDS aggravates food insecurity, which yet again feeds into the risk. (Oxfam, 2002)

Economic crisis

Each of the afore mentioned has to be observed in the background of structural distortions and disparities in the region's economy; about 60-70% of labour force is in agriculture section, that contributes below 20% to GDP, whereas 30% of the labour force is in the industry and services that contributes 90% to GDP. This susceptibility to unexpected economic declines in Sub-Saharan Africa countries which lack the ability and infrastructure to manage them can worsen the rate of the disaster.

(Financial Times, 2002)

Several Sub-Saharan Africa countries have poor macro-economic performance. Together with economic integrations in the region, it has implied that the downhill trend has had wave effects all through. (Financial Times, 2002)

The interaction involving governance and economic growth performance has damaged efforts to tackle problems. Food shortage is not merely an “economic disaster”. Whilst lack of purchasing power at the personal and family level can be accredited to poverty level, it is often also the effect of political failures, not only conflicts, except letdown in political answerability of regimes, and also political meddling, as happened in Zimbabwe recently. (Maxwell, 2000)


Politics holds a central point in present regional performances in sub-Saharan Africa. In the case of Zimbabwe, governance failure; both by absence of accountability and also a resistance to democratisation; in spite of the truth that land reforms plan provides both promise and danger, there is presently concerns over under-using of recently settled land, leading to poorer crop yields. (Maxwell, 2000)

Capacity to respond

Famines are not purely natural phenomenon; they are an interaction of a mixture of a number of factors; of risks and the communities at risk. Sub-Sahara Africa is not unfamiliar to droughts and famines, and individuals have managed them previously. The issue increasingly being questioned is: Why not at present? People who are facing food shortages makes strategic decisions regarding how to fulfil their requirements: alternatives vary from informal food safety grids where people draw upon their social groups, to eating a smaller amount and low-cost meals and at times scrounging for seeds and fruits, or when more desperately migrating away. What is currently being witnessed in Sub-Sahara Africa at family level is a gradually wearing down of individuals' coping mechanisms, that is revealing a more deep-rooted and intricate problem of susceptibility. (Aziz, 2001)

In addition, the evidence available suggests that several countries and also regions which are susceptible to the natural calamities lack the capability or are badly prepared to counter. The capability to manage at the country stage a group of individuals who can recognize the problems, evaluate the data which is brought from the ground and formulate solutions so as to avoid or control famine, is under utilised or not there. The policies, establishments and also capacities should to be put in position to respond and alleviate. Nonetheless, there have been numerous instances of successful food crisis prevention, which includes Botswana and Kenya in the mid 1980s and South Africa and Zimbabwe in the early 1990s. Yet, what is apparent is that revival and rehabilitation attempts that tackle the core causes of persistent food shortages and susceptibility to famine have been awfully limited. (Aziz, 2001)

The wider context

There is a general view that Sub-Sahara Africa has under-performed in the macro-economic levels, however indeed according to the World Bank data (Maxwell, 2002) Africa hasn't lagged behind, it data show that the world as a whole lagged behind: Food production in fact, has improved by more than a quarter in the past two decades, except not adequate in relations of per capita production globally. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where annual growth of GDP per capita has been on the negative, at 1.0% from 1975 and 1999, in contrast with 6.0%, for Eastern Asia and 2.3% for South Asia. (Maxwell, 2002)

Improving poor economic performance of Sub-Saharan Africa's sluggish agricultural segment is a vital to resolving the hunger and poverty problems because this segment is at the core of food security. In relation to the other regions of the world, agriculture sector is particularly central in Sub-Sahara Africa; with small-scale agriculture farmers being the main source of incomes in Sub-Sahara Africa. Agriculture offers employment to a greater segment of the labour force compared to any other area. Lipton (2001) states that, more than 96% of farmers Sub-Sahara Africa work on a small-scale, cultivating below four hectares

And still, small-scale agriculture has been proved to be least efficient compared to large-scale farms after farmers obtained same support services such as inputs in terms of seeds, fertilisers and credit. A latest FAO research has exposed that small- scale farms appear to be extra productive and provide more employment opportunities to the surrounding populations compared to large estates; the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its report given in 2001 approximated that for every 1% increase in agricultural production, poverty level would be decline by 0.6%. The FAO is currently advocating for extra public investments by developed and also developing nations into on-farming improvements for example irrigation, superior seeds, protection of the natural-resource foundation for food productivity, advancement in research on agriculture and extension services, improvement of rural transportation, better market accessibility and exceptional provision for individuals in specific need. The (FAO, 2002)

These are opinions which are more and more being proposed throughout the world. The World Bank's recent rural growth strategy stipulates for increased proportion of resources committed to rural growth. Moving beyond food shortage, NEPAD of late proclaimed that it has recognized agriculture sector as a main concern for a sub-regional and also regional approaches to growth and also as a backbone for development in the enhancement of people's incomes in the rural regions. The “NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme” (CAADP), that predicts outlay of $240 billion by the year 2015, put focus on three main areas where increasing the investments would assist develop sub-Sahara Africa's agriculture sector, food security and also trade balance, which are:

  • expanding the area of sustainable land management and dependable water management systems;
  • improving the rural infrastructure network and trade-connected capacities for accessing the market; and
  • Increasing the food deliver and reducing food shortage (FAO, 2002)

Globalisation and the part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

There is a close link between food shortage and food security on the one side, and a big number of aspects of global significance on the side. The unfavourable effect of structural adjustment and the liberalisation policies regarding food security and also agriculture, alongside the continuous trade barriers, the general downhill drift of agricultural subsidies, official development assistance (ODA), in the North, and debt burdens in sub-Sahara Africa are merely just several of the aspects highlighting the requirement for global co-operation as an tool for tackling food insecurity. (FAO, 2002)

The practice and regulations of international trade plays a central role in attaining global food security and enhancement of agriculture. Free trade does not suit everyone and sub-Sahara African countries faces enormous task in being competitive.

Trade rounds apparently profit the entire world by improving competitiveness, enlarging the marketplace so as to raise trade volumes and improve the value of goods traded. These suppositions are founded on fundamentally faulty principles. Though, trade has the possibility of contributing to the food security, however practical two groups of regulations have been imposed: one group for those permitted to and accountable for deforming the market by use of tariff and also non-tariff barriers, the second group is for, the developing nations, who were not and are currently legally barred from acting so.

McCalla (2001) clearly observes that, Market reforms which were put across by the WB and the IMF as being the ideologically right development and growth path discarded views of government involvement. As a consequence, a great deal of the Sub-Sahara Africa was forced to decrease its involvements in the national economy, a move which incorporated stopping the subsidisation of the agricultural inputs for example fertiliser and also privatising the produce boards which set farmers prices and gathered the farmers' products. Ironically these handicaps have been further compounded by policies in the North—at the same time that African farmers have been told they can no longer have free seeds or fertilisers, McCalla, (2001) adds that, instead, the US and the EU have maintained and in fact highly increased support and subsidies for agriculture sector. A downstream result is that of the subsidised produce surpluses that undercuts the food prices of Sub-Sahara African in their home markets. This is somehow an inconsistency that wealthy countries greatly subsidise a waning agricultural sector that, at prime, contributes below 5%to GDP. (McCalla, 2001)


Africa has currently reached unparalleled crisis levels in terms of food shortages as several 38 million people in Africa face “an urgent and impending threat to their security, stability and peace in terms of right to food. However, it is not reasonable for the international community to put money at the crisis of extensive food shortage. Designed humanitarian aid and support an answer to this issue.

As Grunwald, (20003) states a more strategic and tactical approach is required in formulating and then implementing an effective global, national and also regional policies regarding food security. In dealing with the reasons, the fundamental of increasing structural disparities ought to affect better acknowledgment of the long-standing manner of adjusting approaches relating to food security. Good responses have to encompass food aid and fresh approaches to agriculture, besides prevention and also treatment of the HIV/AIDS victims. The WTO immediately requires to be reorganized to comprise the full involvement of the poorer nations, and it should be reorganized to offer more support. The Developing nations ought to benefit a lot from the elimination of trade barriers for produces in which these countries have a relative advantage, from decreased tariffs for the processed agricultural products, and also from better preferential accessibility to global markets for the most under-developed countries. (WFP, 2002)

Greater acknowledgment should be awarded to agriculture sector as the main concern sector in sub-Sahara Africa, together with allocation of enlarged funding in the national budgets of these countries as suggested by the Sub-Sahara Africa ministers of agriculture. (Agency France-Press, 2002) There should be a balance between an immediate food support issues with long-standing and strategic deliberations, which needs a comprehensive approach entailing economical, social, political and the environmental factors. Nonetheless, what is vital is the political will to deal with the food shortage problem.

In the words of James Morris (executive director of the World Food Programme)

At the end, food shortage is only a political construction and we have to apply political ways in ending it. For the results to be positive to Sub-Sahara Africa, it requires that their leaders, intellectuals and the communities have to be at the foremost in decision making. For sound and sustainable actions to be accepted it calls for regional and collective decision making. (Morris, 2002)


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