There won’t be a peaceful world as long as there is hunger
Context: Recently World Food Programme (WFP) was awarded prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution in combating hunger, bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and also for its role as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.
WFP was created in 1961 as an experiment to provide food aid through the UN system and in 1965, it was enshrined as a fully-fledged UN programme. It launched its 1st development program in Sudan.
Since then, WFP has been forefront at the conflict-ridden countries like for humanitarian assistance to the hungry and needy people. Globally, WFP functions in more than 83 countries, reaching 86.7 million people.
Aim: To eradicate hunger and malnutrition with the ultimate goal of eliminating the need for food aid itself.
Headquarters: Rome, Italy
It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.
Funding: Its operations are funded entirely by voluntary donations from world governments, corporations and private donors. It raised US$8 billion in 2019
WFP is governed by a 36-member Executive Board and partners with more than 1,000 national and international NGOs to provide food assistance and tackle the underlying causes of hunger.
What is the link between food security and peace?
- It is important to understand, why an organization providing humanitarian assistance has been awarded a prize for ‘Outstanding contributions in peace’.
- The Nobel committee has stressed the link between armed conflict and hunger and described it as “vicious circle”, where conflict can cause food insecurity and food insecurity may trigger violence.
- Almost 80 per cent of all chronic malnourished children inhabit countries affected by armed conflict.
- Increase food security by humanitarian assistance, not only prevents hunger but can also help to improve prospects for stability and peace.
- Wars constrain people’s mobility, create black markets and restrict people’s access to food, making it either unavailable or too expensive. War-related displacement causes people to be removed from their cultivable land so that they cannot grow food, and it diverts resources from people’s welfare towards the war effort.
- SDG (Sustainable development goal) – 2 targets zero hunger by 2030.
Food Insecurity globally and in India
- WFP data: As per the data of WFP, there are 821 million people in the world who do not get enough food to lead a normal, active life and world’s 1/4th undernourished people live in India.
- As per the SOFI (State of Food Security and Nutrition) report, 2020, food insecurity in India increased by 3.8 percentage points between 2014 and 2019.
|Stunting and wasting
- Global Nutrition Report 2018: As per the global nutrition report 2018, with almost a third of the world’s burden for stunting, India tops the list of countries with stunting, followed by Nigeria and Pakistan. Almost 46.6 million children are stunted in India.
- Global Hunger Index: In Global Hunger Index 2020, India ranks 94th out of the 107 countries.
- Impact of COVID pandemic: This problem has been further enhanced by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has the potential to increase the number of hungry people by 270 million.
Government measures to promote food security in India
Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY): Scheme was launched as a part of Atmanirbhar Bharat in March amid COVID pandemic as a relief package to prevent hunger and poverty. Under this scheme, eligible families are provided with 5 kg free wheat/rice per person/month along with 1 kg free whole chana to each family per month.
Public Distribution System (TPDS): A modified version of PDS launched in 2017 is TPDS. It aims at food security and poverty alleviation via provisions for essential commodities to the beneficiaries identified based on the inclusion and exclusion criterion.
Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) – Bottom most 2.5 crores BPL families get 35 kg of rice at Rs. 3/kg and wheat at Rs. 2/kg through the same Fair Price Shops.
Senior citizens of 65 years of age and above if not covered under the National Old Age Pension Scheme are provided 10 kg of food grains at free of cost.
National Food Security Act, 2013: The NFSA, 2013 gives a legal right to subsidized food grains to about 67% of the population and provides for penalty for non-compliance by public servants with special provisions related to children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS): Scheme is aimed at improving the nutritional and health status of children between 0 to 6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Mid-Day Meal Scheme: Scheme is aimed at improving the nutritional status of school-going children and simultaneously enhancing enrollment, retention and attendance
National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan): It is India’s flagship program launched in 2018 to improve nutritional standards among children and women by reducing the level of stunting, underweight, anaemia and low birth weight by 2022. It is based on the NITI Aayog’s recommendations under the National Nutrition strategy.
WFP in India
- Food distribution: WFP is operating in India in the field of Food distribution system to improve its efficiency, accountability and transparency.
- Food fortification: WFP is pioneering the multi-micronutrient fortification of school meals under the Mid-Day meal program.
- Vulnerability monitoring: WFP is supporting India’s poverty and human development monitoring through its own Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping software to identify India’s most food-insecure areas.
With 65% of our population below 35 years of age, India is on a stage where it requires to reap the benefit of increasing young population and become the workforce provider to the world. For that this young population required to be healthy and disease-free to reap the ongoing demographic dividend. World Food programme with its high-level experience in tackling food-related issues in most difficult situations can assist India in dealing with the issues related to stunting and wasting.