Despite progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 736 million people still live in extreme poverty, relying on less than $ 1.90 a day. According to the latest report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), worldwide 821 million people suffered from hunger and malnutrition in 2017. This is a higher number than in the preceding years. Although enough food is produced worldwide, particularly rural populations in many countries are affected by hunger and undernourishment: They cannot afford to buy food,. often lack tenure and use rights to land as well as access to basic services and are excluded from policy-decision making processes. This is also visible in the agricultural and food security policy of many countries: They often marginalize subsistence and smallholder farmers.
Food security is predominately a question of equal distribution of resources, goods and services. The challenges of people facing chronic food insecurity are exacerbated by massive crop failures due to climate disasters such as droughts or floods, social conflicts and political unrests. Food and water are becoming scarce. Famines do not only lead to the loss of human life, but also potentially destabilize whole regions, causing militant conflicts and migration.
During the last years, hunger and malnutrition have been increasing, especially due to conflicts, variable weather conditions (e.g. extreme heat and drought periods) as well as decreasing economic growth. In addition, large-scale acquisition of arable land mostly by foreign investors (land grabbing) is challenging food security and living conditions of the local population. In pursuit of the SDGs, the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) supports sustainable and inclusive land-use planning in its partner countries as well as tenure and use rights for the local population. ADA further promotes the empowerment and participation of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in decision-making processes. ADA supports smallholder farmers (family farms) to produce in an environmentally sustainable and resource-efficient manner as well as in improving access to local and regional markets. Investments in local infrastructure (such as improvements in storage and processing of agricultural production) as well as extension and financial services for smallholder farmers and producer associations contribute to local value added.