Peace consciousness and food security

3 October 2017 Philippines

As the country celebrates national peace consciousness month, we are reminded about the role of peace in food security. Sometime last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released a publication entitled, “Peace and Food Security: Investing in Resilience to Sustain Rural Livelihoods Amidst Conflict.” Conflict-ridden areas are characterized by shortages in food and other household essentials that are critical for human survival.

The FAO estimated that there are about 167 million undernourished individuals who are living in places that are in conflict. They represent about 20 percent of humans who are hungry. Sadly, this has also affected children, who by now are becoming increasingly prone to physical disabilities and mental impairment. The latter includes mental illnesses and retardation. Thus, conflict resolution and sustained peacekeeping efforts are vital to food security.

In citing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the FAO had expressed that the first two sustainable development goals (SDGs) are associated with the reduction of hunger, and the achievement of food security. Essentially, the SDGs seek to end poverty, realize inclusive growth, and enhance resilience. W.C.J. Grobler wrote that food security, as a concept, had evolved since it was discussed in the 1974 World Food conference. Using South Africa as a case reference, Grobler observed that there were differences in the way food-secure and food-insecure households perceived poverty. The latter associated poverty with fatalistic (e.g. not responsible for their situation and blames the government for their predicament); and societal causes (e.g. uneven distribution of wealth).

In the Philippines, the National Nutrition Council utilizes an “Integrated Food Security Phase Classification,” or IPC, in identifying the chronically food insecure (CFI) segments of the population. The FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit originally developed the IPC in Somalia. From 2015 through April 2017, about 38 provinces in the Philippines have been classified in terms of their CFI status. Analysis showed that about 60 percent of the people in this country are chronically food insecure.

For Luzon and the Visayas, those who are in the severe CFI levels are in Northern Samar and Mindoro Occidental, whereas those who are moderate include the provinces of Aurora, Bohol, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Catanduanes, Cebu, Ifugao, Kalinga, Leyte, Marinduque, Mountain Province, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Nueva Ecija, Mindoro Oriental, Palawan, Romblon, Samar, Siquijor, Sorsogon, Southern Leyte, Quirino, and Zambales. In Mindanao, Lanao del Sur and Sulu have been classified as severely chronically food insecure. Regional Peace and Order Councils are expected to initiate approaches among stakeholders in maintaining peace and order in these areas.