Access to food: the SDC's commitment to sustainable food systems

Sufficient and adequate food is a human right, yet over 800 million people remain chronically undernourished. The SDC works at various levels to ensure that every person in the world has access to sufficient and adequate food.  

A woman stacking apples in a market with a rich selection of fruits and vegetables
The SDC is committed to diversified production and food systems and access to fruit and vegetables for all. © SDC

The SDC's focus

The SDC aims to achieve sustainable food security for all. That is why it promotes agriculture, markets and food policies that guarantee secure access to adequate food even for the poorest and most disadvantaged sections of the population. In its work, the SDC considers all aspects of the entire food system, 'from farm to fork', which affect food availability and quality.

While direct food aid deliveries play an important role during acute crises, the SDC is increasingly supporting projects that prioritise sustainable and balanced long-term nutrition and functioning local markets. In the event of a crisis, food aid can thus be delivered much more efficiently by focusing on those most in need.

The SDC focuses in particular on the role of women and young people in food production and nutrition. It works to ensure that they have access to resources and education. Young people often seek opportunities in the agriculture or food sector, both in the rural and in urban areas. By providing sound training endeavours in organic farming as well as start-up opportunities for food retailers in towns and cities, the SDC helps to boost economic prospects while also strengthening food systems.

To improve access for all, especially disadvantaged groups, the SDC is active in the following areas:

Right to food

The SDC was actively involved in drafting the UN's Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realisation of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, adopted in 2004, and has since been working to ensure their implementation. A number of countries have subsequently adjusted their policies, legislation and institutions in accordance with the Guidelines. The SDC is also working to ensure that civil society organisations and other stakeholders can monitor compliance with the right to adequate food and tell governments where there is potential for improvement.

Balanced nutrition

The SDC works to ensure that, in addition to staple foods, people also have access to a varied diet. To this end, it supports diversified agricultural production and food systems. Information and awareness-raising work, education, access to safe drinking water, healthcare and proper processing and storage of food also play an important role.

Crop forecasting and insurance

The SDC uses new technologies such as satellite data with radar technology to establish crop forecasting and agricultural micro-insurance. Among other things, crop forecasts facilitate the early detection of food crises, enabling timely intervention to prevent food emergencies and famine. In partnership with the private sector, the SDC develops micro-insurance products for smallholder farmers as well as insurance for countries, against flooding and drought for example. This is important to prevent more people falling even deeper into poverty.

Background

Hunger and malnutrition are major challenges. While the proportion of hungry people in the world fell from 23% to 12% between 1992 and 2015, according to the UN approximately 821 million people were chronically undernourished in 2017.

Sufficient and nutritious food is especially important during the first 1,000 days of an infant's life, otherwise the child can suffer permanent damage. According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, over 240 million children under the age of five are affected by chronic or acute malnutrition and more than 2 billion people are suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiency. To counter this problem, food can be enriched with micronutrients. However, a sounder approach would be to promote diversified agricultural production that provides access to a wider range of foods.

The right to adequate food is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) made this right legally binding. In Switzerland, the ICESCR came into force in 1992.

To improve the overall quality of food systems, the SDC draws particularly on innovations developed by Swiss universities and private companies. Such partnerships range from research into sustainable cropping systems and scientific consolidation of practical experience from the food industry through to the development and application of technological solutions. The SDC helps to disseminate these approaches through international policy dialogue, drawing on its own decades of experience, as well as that of Swiss non-governmental development organisations in agricultural projects and from collaborative work with farmers' organisations.

Documents

Current projects

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Climate & Socially Resilient Livelihoods’ Support (CSRLS)

01.02.2024 - 30.04.2028

The climatic challenges exacerbate Afghanistan's already fragile socio-economic condition. The project by the Afghan NGO, The Liaison Office, aims to sustainably improve lives and livelihoods of the poorest households in selected provinces by strengthening the natural resource base, climate change resilient and diversified livelihoods, relationships within and between communities, as well as joint climate action.


CABI PlantwisePlus

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

PlantwisePlus is a global programme that is supporting countries and farmers to predict, prevent and prepare themselves for plant health threats in a changing climate. This will allow farmers to reduce their crop losses and produce more and safer food using agroecological and climate-smart practices that safeguard human health and biodiversity. The programme is implemented by CABI, a leading intergovernmental research and development organization in plant health, with research facilities in Switzerland.


Colombia: MIRE+, Assistance to Victims of Violence

01.10.2023 - 31.03.2025

The humanitarian crisis in Colombia continues despite growing efforts towards peace. Armed groups fighting for territory and valuable natural resources inflict extreme harm on rural and ethnic communities. In line with the Swiss interest to respond to humanitarian crises, SDC remains dedicated to supporting these communities, enhancing their individual and collective resilience. The project integrates humanitarian action with a developmental and peace orientation (nexus).


Strengthening Civil Society in Myanmar – Paung Ku

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

In Myanmar, civic space has considerably shrunk since the military coup. In the absence of a legitimate government, networks of independent civil society organisations (CSOs) are essential actors for basic service provision and promotion of democratic values and human rights. Showing commitment to localisation, Switzerland will enable local CSOs to further support vulnerable communities and to protect the foundations of a pluralistic and inclusive society.  


Building Resilient Communities for Sustainable Development in rural Afghanistan

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2026

Afghanistan is among the most exposed countries to climate change. Prolonged drought and progressive reduction of water reserves put at risk the survival of traditional livelihoods. By integrating innovative agriculture techniques and improving the management of natural resources, this project aims at promoting the resilience of rural communities. Climate change adaptation is key for the food security, and represents an institutional priority for the Swiss international cooperation.


Bangladesh Microinsurance Market Development Programme

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2027

This programme takes forward Switzerland’s global and in-country experience in working on agricultural microinsurance by addressing critical climate risks, hazards and resulting economic shocks for farming people. The programme will sustainably increase resilience of farmers and related micro and small enterprises through climate change adaptation practices, and stimulate sustainable and inclusive growth across multiple agricultural sub-sectors.


Multisectoral response to the humanitarian needs and protection risks of children, adolescents, and their families in the Orinoco Mining Arc.

15.06.2023 - 31.12.2024

The NRC intervention seeks to provide assistance in the sectors of Protection, Education, Food Security and Livelihoods, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, to 6,483 direct beneficiaries, including children, adolescents, and their families in communities and schools of the Orinoco Mining Arc; a hotspot area for illegal mining and high levels of violence in Bolivar state, near the border between Venezuela and Brazil, a priority area for the SDC Guidance Note for Venezuela 2022-2024.


Enhancing Climate Resilience of Vulnerable Communities and Ecosystems in South Sudan

01.06.2023 - 31.05.2026

Local authorities and communities will be strengthened in their technical and managerial capacities to reduce people’s livelihood exposure, vulnerability and resilience to floods and drought thus increasing food production and reduce food insecurity as well as displacement of people and competition over natural resources. This will be achieved through improved communication, coordination and knowledge-sharing, early warning systems and appropriate legislation. 


Provide support to multi-sectoral needs for vulnerable families in the states of Bolivar and Sucre States

01.06.2023 - 31.12.2024

In cooperation with national and international stakeholders, RET will provide multi sectorial assistance for a total of 7’331 direct beneficiaries in Sucre and Bolívar states, by addressing their basic needs and strengthening opportunities in the sectors of food security and livelihoods, nutrition and health services, as well as in water, sanitation and hygiene; in line with the Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela 2022 – 2023 and the SDC Guidance Note for Venezuela 2022 – 2024.


Multisectoral response to the humanitarian needs of vulnerable people in Amazonas, Zulia and Bolivar states

01.06.2023 - 31.12.2024

Amid the protracted crisis in Venezuela, Action Against Hunger will provide humanitarian assistance in the sectors of Food Security and Livelihoods, Health and Nutrition for a total of 15’961 direct beneficiaries, identified as the most vulnerable population in Amazonas, Bolívar and Zulia states – border states with Colombia and Brazil; in line with the United Nation’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela 2022 – 2024 and the SDC Guidance Note for Venezuela 2022 – 2024


PASEM 2 - Programme d’Appui au Secteur de l’Elevage au Mali

15.04.2023 - 15.04.2027

L’élevage, adapté à l’écosystème du Sahel, est crucial pour le développement des régions de Mopti, Tombouctou et Gao et ce en dépit des effets du changement climatique, de l’insécurité, de la faible productivité et de l’insuffisance des infrastructures. De par son expérience, la Suisse va renforcer la résilience de 85’000 éleveurs et pasteurs, concourir à l’apaisement des conflits et à la relance économique, et offrir des opportunités aux jeunes et aux femmes dans les filières bétail-viande et lait.


Participation Active des Citoyennes et Citoyens Tunisien(ne)s – PACT II

01.04.2023 - 31.03.2027

L’intervention soutient, dans la région marginalisée des Hautes Steppes, un ensemble de dynamiques de développement communautaires initiées par les autorités décentralisées et déconcentrées et appuyées par une participation active de la communauté pour améliorer les conditions de vie des citoyen.ne.s et réduire les vulnérabilités. La DDC apportera sa valeur ajoutée à travers son expérience en gouvernance locale démocratique et en développement local inclusif.

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