Food Security

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. (World Food Summit, 1996)

This widely accepted definition points to the following dimensions of food security:

  • Food availability: The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports (including food aid).
  • Food access: Access by individuals to adequate resources (entitlements) for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Entitlements are defined as the set of all commodity bundles over which a person can establish command given the legal, political, economic and social arrangements of the community in which they live (including traditional rights such as access to common resources).
  • Utilization: Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. This brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security.
  • Stability: To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. They should not risk losing  access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. an economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (e.g. seasonal food insecurity). The concept of stability can therefore refer to both the availability and access dimensions of food security.

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Mekong Mainstream Dams Threatening Southeast Asia’s Food Security

The Mekong is under threat. The governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand are considering plans to build eleven big hydropower dams on the Mekong River’s lower mainstream. If built, these dams would harm the river’s ecology and block the major fish migrations that feed and provide income to millions of people.

Plans for Mekong Mainstream Dams Revived

While China is midway through the construction of a controversial cascade of dams on the Upper Mekong (Lancang), the lower stretch of the river – shared by Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam – has so far escaped hydropower development. For the 60 million people living in the Lower Mekong basin, whose food, income, and other needs are provided for in part by the “mother of all rivers”, this has been good news. Yet, as the region’s economies grow and electricity demand increases, plans for a series of dams on the Mekong River’s lower mainstream have been revived.

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Food Security, A Review of Literature From Ethiopia to India

This review provides the theoretical framework for any research on food security and social protection through Employment Generation Schemes. It presents a ‘conceptual geography’ of important works of literature related to the latest evidence and informed by the best international experience. The subject of hunger can be tackled from rights, economic, social, environmental, agricultural and political based perspectives and therefore a combination of different factors are determinants of the extent of poverty and hunger in a given context. Poverty has been described as:

“Poverty has both physical and psychological dimensions. Poor people themselves strongly emphasise violence, crime, discrimination,insecurity and political repression, biased or brutal policing, and victimisation by rude, neglectful and corrupt public agencies” (Narayam et al, 2000).

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Food Security Strategy


Currently, over 800 million people or 13 per cent of the world’s population are undernourished. Some 200 million children aged under five suffer from protein and energy deficiencies. The Australian Government and other United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) members at the 2002 World Food Summit: Five Years Later in Rome supported achieving food security for all. The Australian Government views a more open trade system as central to increasing food security. We are committed to trade liberalisation as the key to promoting global food security. Australia strongly supports food security based on self-reliance. We recognise the complementary roles of domestic production and international trade, according to the principles of comparative advantage, as the most efficient way to achieve food security. Some developing countries have improved their competitive position and exploited opportunities resulting from trade liberalisation. However some resource-poor countries have lacked the capacity to do so. Australian support for agricultural training and policy research has assisted these countries maximise the benefits from their participation in the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations.

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Food Security: Concepts and Measurement

2.1 Introduction

This chapter looks at the origins of the concept of chronic food insecurity, the implications for measurement, and suggests the need for a complementary investigation into the implications for transitory food insecurity of trade liberalization. The 2002 food crisis in Southern Africa is used to highlight issues for further discussion.

2.2 Defining food security

Food security is a flexible concept as reflected in the many attempts at definition in research and policy usage. Even a decade ago, there were about 200 definitions in published writings.Whenever the concept is introduced in the title of a study or its objectives, it is necessary to look closely to establish the explicit or implied definition.

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