Interview: Corina Bosshard
Fotograf: Georg Tedeschi, Thomas Freteur
The 2030 Agenda has set the goal of eliminating hunger and malnutrition in all its forms from the world by the year 2030. Where do things stand with this goal? Can it still be achieved? In other words, what is the present world food situation?
Regrettably, the picture is not a good one. After years of declining numbers of starving people, the figures started rising again in 2014. This is attributable mainly to climate change and its impacts on the harvests of many vitally important products. The upshot is higher food prices, which are now proving unaffordable for many people.
How has the COVID pandemic impacted the food situation in Sudan? What are you observing in HEKS/EPER projects?
COVID-19 meant that roughly another 120 million people were affected by hunger in 2020. Many have lost their jobs owing to Covid measures such as lockdowns or curfews. Many of the poorest people work in the informal sector and have no social security. Local markets were also closed down in many places, and the fallout has been disastrous for numerous farmers and consumers. Specifically, I've had recent reports on projects in South Sudan and Bangladesh to the effect that COVID has significantly compounded the already tense situation in both countries.
The UN Food Systems Summit is now set for late September 2021. Some aid agencies are being critical of this summit. Why? Isn't it a good thing for the topic to be dealt with in the international arena?
It is indeed a very good and meaningful thing that the topic of food in its broadest sense is being addressed. The new term "food systems" also makes sense. That is not what is being criticised.
The criticism is mainly of the way the summit came about. Rather than through an initiative by the democratically legitimised and competent UN body, the summit took shape through a kind of back-door deal between the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the UN Secretary-General.
This meant that the Rome-based Committee for Food Security (CFS) was almost denied its traditional leading role in shaping international food policy. This is alarming because, in addition to multilateral players and business sector representatives, the CFS also includes civil society representatives who can ensure that the views of small farmers are also heard.
In the run-up to the summit, its organisation was such that civil society players were considerably weakened, while multinational corporations became overrepresented. The voice of small farmers, who account for some 70 per cent of food production, had too little weight. We want to change that.