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Food Security is not the answer

Food Security is not the answer

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Published by erikipeter
Food Security is touted as the panacea to african conflict and poverty. However, Food security if pursued in isolation from other principles of human security, is bound to be a failure.
Food Security is touted as the panacea to african conflict and poverty. However, Food security if pursued in isolation from other principles of human security, is bound to be a failure.

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Published by: erikipeter on Nov 02, 2009
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01/17/2012

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Food Securityaloneis not the answer.
Today, food security is the new buzz word in the development world and Uganda’spolitical corridors.On the upside, this signifies a new approachfrom developmentagencies and the Uganda government alike,to matters of security. Unfortunately, all thenoble efforts to achieve food security in isolation fromthe other basic components of Human Security(health, economic, individual, community, environmental and politicalsecurity) are set to fail or in the least,be counterproductive if pursued outside thebroader scope of the Human Securityparadigm. Presently, food security is beingtouted as the panacea to the decades of conflict and poverty thathaveplagued northernUgandan(see New visionMonday26th 2009). The government of Uganda and manydevelopment agencies are now bent double trying to ensure food security in a regionplagued by conflict, poverty and disease hoping that it will end violent conflict in Ugandaonce and for all, and also reconcile past misunderstandings in one big swoop. However,food security in isolation, cannot guarantee security and without a holisticimplementation of Human Security. Still, choosingfood security means thatgovernment and development agencies have opened their eyes to the broad natureof security issues in the 21st century and Human Securitycan only be achieved byholistically applying all the different components of the paradigm.However, choosing the theme of food security is monumental primarily because itshows a genuine commitment from Uganda’sleaders to end their people’swoes, andsecondly, because it appears to constitute a gradual shift from the traditional militarydominant conceptions of securitywidely held in Uganda.
“Security” 
in Uganda istraditionally defined in terms of “
national security,” 
a concept with roots stemming fromthe Treaty of Westphalia and Realist ideology, where states are the primary actors, andtheir survival is the main pre-occupation. At the end of colonialism Uganda inherited thisWestphalian-model statewhich views security purely in terms of protecting nationalsovereignty and territorial integrity, and treated these principles as it’s most fundamentaland legitimate concerns. Consequently, the notion of “security” has had noxiousconsequences for Uganda. In part, this is a result of the legacy of colonialadministrations, which tended to view security in the very narrow sense of “establishment and maintenance of colonial hegemony”, causing extraordinary coercionandviolence, directed against subject populations. This notion that the regime, and notits subjects, was the appropriate referent object survived the transition into independentUganda. Here, it combined with the equally unfortunate legacy of the Westphalian statesystem that did not accord well with political and economic realitiesor with the truenature of securitythreats. Consequently, this encourageda “military-dominantconception of security” that held the principal challenge to security to be posed by themilitary forces of other states. This justified the acquisition and maintenance of largemilitary establishments, often without much threat analysis or reference to other pressing needs of the state.
 
So what is Human Security? The 1994 human development reports definition of HumanSecurityequates security with people rather than territories and with development rather than arms.However, the genealogy of the idea can be traced back to growingdissatisfaction with prevailing notions of development and security in the 1960’s, 1970’sand 1980’s. Economics undoubtedly led the way with its critiquesof the dominantmodels of economic development starting in the 1960’s. Inthe mid 1970’s the
‘World Order Models Project’ 
launched an ambitious effort to envision and construct a morestable and just world order, and as a part of this endeavordrew attention to the problemof individual well being and safety.”Broadly however, Human Securityis achieved when and where individuals andcommunities have the options necessary to end, mitigate, or adapt to threats to their human, environmental and social rights; and have the capacity and freedom to exercisethese options and actively participate in attaining these options. Human Securityapplies most at the level of the individual citizen. It amounts to human well being; notonly protection from harm and injury but access to other basic requisites that are thedue of every person on earth. While material sufficiency lies at the core of HumanSecurity, the concept encompasses non material dimensions to form a qualitativewhole…..the quantitative aspect refers to material sufficiencythat the pursuit of HumanSecuritymust have at its core. The qualitative aspect of Human Securityis about theachievement of human dignity, which incorporates personal autonomy, control over one’slife and unhindered participation in the life of the community.By focusing onpeople, Human Securityrenders meaningless the consideration of traditional territorialboundaries; even the nation and the state cannot be accorded a higher priority.
The Basic Ideals of Human Security
How safe and free are we as individuals? That is the central question behind the idea of Human Security. It’snot a new question, but it is one that has stirred up debate betweenpolicy makers and thinkers. After the Cold War, governments’ NGOs’, InternationalOrganizations, and ordinary citizens are now in position to explore that question asneverbefore and to act to enlarge the envelope of safety and freedom. The major worklegitimizing the importance of current Human Securitystudies, the UNDP’s
HumanDevelopment Report 1994
,set forth “seven main categories” of “threats to HumanSecurity.These tenets are described briefly below.
Economic Security
The measure of an individual’s or a group’s economic security is based on a twofoldclaim that factors in a person’s financial resources and whether the possibility exists touse these resources to satisfy basic needs. In order for economic security to beguaranteed, either “an assured basic income usually from productive andremunerative work” must exist for individuals or “in the last resort from some publiclyfinanced safety net.” Threats to this form of security derive from such wide-rangingcauses as widespread corruption, environmental disasters, a state’s economic policies,or even the faceless danger of globalization. Examples of threats to economic securityin the region are numerous. One such instance came in the 1990’s, when many citizens
 
of a deeply indebted Kenya became economically insecure after their governmentallowed itself to be fleeced by corrupt government officials of billions of dollars worth of Kenyan tax payers money in what came to be known as the Goldenberg scandal. WhileKenya’sovervalued shilling allowed the newly rich (corrupt Government officials andindividuals) to hoard profits abroad, members of the working and middle classessuffered. No adequate social safety net existed to aid the unemployed, and workersoften received no earnings as their employers slipped into arrears, causing massiveeconomic insecurity. This manifested itself in the institutionalized corruption and socialinsecurity that characterized Kenyan life in the 1990’sand in many ways led to thediscontent that triggered post election violence in 2007. This case conveys how poor government policy, threats stemming from globalization, and economic inequality canendanger a state’s and invariably a regions security.
Food and Health Security
Food security means more than food availability as it touches on a wide range of aspects. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization(FAO) for instance, articulatesfood security from a multi-dimensional angle, where food security, is defined asinclusive of adequacy in food supply (both quality and quantity), stable and sustainablefood supply and accessibility to available food for all and at all times. This implies thatall people regardless of sex, age, class and race/ethnicity are at all times guaranteedphysical, economic and psychological access to quality food to meet both physiologicaland nutrient requirements. Contributing to the FAO definition, the World Bank definesfood security as, “access to enough food by all people at all times for ensuring a healthyand active lifestyle.” “The Rural Food Security Research and Policy Group (KIHACHA)based at the University of Dar es Salaam (2002) added a human rights element to thedefinition of food security. Its supporting argument is based on the fact that food securityis a matter of human life.” Food and health security require not only that resources exist,but also that they be made available to those in need. In the case of the Bengal famineof 1943, the availability of food did not translate into food security. Over2 million peopledied in one year on the Indian sub-continent from starvation and malnutrition despiteincreases in food production levels in that area. The British colonial government didnothing to prevent hoarding by producers or the massive inflation that raised food pricesout of the range of the poverty stricken population.
Environmental Security
The degradation of the environment is the security threat that best represents the themeof interconnectedness in Human Securitytheory. Threats such as natural disasters andpollution do not respect state borders. One such potential threat is climate change. TheIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates global temperatures willincrease by as much as 5.8°C from the period of 1990 to 2100. The IPCC predicts suchincreases in temperature could result in global problems including floods, droughts,“alteredfood productivity, and the likely disturbance of complex ecological systems liketropical forests.”More easily avoidable threats, such as the “giant Soviet Mayakplutonium plant that dumped radioactive waste in a nearby river … affecting more than

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