Despite enormous progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, more than 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and suffer from hunger. Although enough food is produced worldwide, access is not secured for everybody. In particular the rural population in is affected by hunger and undernourishment, since they cannot afford to buy food. Moreover, they often lack property and use rights to land, lack access to basic services and are excluded from policy-decision making processes. This is also visible in many agricultural and food security policy in partner countries, which are often neglecting subsistence and smallholder farmers. Food security is thus predominately a question of equal distribution of of resources, goods and services.

The problems of chronically food insecure people are exacerbated by massive crop failures due to climate disasters, such as droughts or floods, social conflicts and political unrest. Food and water are becoming scarce. Famines are not only resulting in losses of human life but also potentially destabilise whole regions, resulting in warlike conflicts and migration. 

In the last few years, the large scale acquisition of arable land mostly by foreign investors (land grabbing) has caused additional problems in ensuring food security and livelihood conditions for local populations. In pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Austrian Development Agency supports sustainable and inclusive land-use planning, secure property and use rights for the local population as well as the empowerment and participation of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in decision-making processes. ADA assists smallholder family producers in environmentally sustainable and resource-efficient production as well as in improving access to local and regional markets. Investments in local infrastructure (such as improvements in storage and processing), extension and financial services for smallholder farmers and producer associations contribute to local value added.