ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Right to Food

Lack of access to food, hunger and malnutrition are the most visible manifestations of poverty that can be seen across the country.

These are rooted in the systematic denial of social, economic and cultural rights. Food security is closely associated with the right to food. By virtue of birth, everyone on the planet has the right to food hence it is the most fundamental and enabling human right.

The current food crisis has substantially increased the numbers of hungry people. Nepal being primarily an agrarian society, her majority of population derives food security from land, forest, pasture and water resources.

However, due to the market based agrarian policy and land reforms, landless tenants, rural women and marginal farmers are being displaced and gradually forced to move out to labour markets.

From the urban food security perspective, wages from the trades, labour markets and services sector better known as off-farm activities provides the means for ensuring food security.

The notion of food security of the poor and marginalised people is intrinsically linked with the equitable and just land and agrarian reform. Unless the nation achieves the self-sufficiency, sustainable food security is the distant dream as the recent food crisis adequately proved that when India banned the export of food grains to Nepal in earlier of 2008. Nepal once the net exporter in 1990s, now has to import from neighbouring countries as production fails due to the removal of inputs support such as subsidy in irrigation, seeds and fertilizers and tariff related barrier.

Re-prioritising the agriculture and adequate financing to agriculture are the pre-requisite for ensuring sustainable food security as only this helps increase the food production. However food insecurity, affecting sustainable livelihoods, is not only a matter of production; it also depends upon distribution and consumption of quality food and employment opportunities.

Lack of access to and control over resources, individual's unlimited property rights, food dumping, trade liberalisation, increasing price of agricultural inputs and control of markets by foreign corporations, lack of public investment in agriculture sector, lack of coping strategy to climate change, and lack of proper land reform policies are directly related with food insecurity.

Protracted socio-political conflict has played an important role in worsening the situation over last decade. Since the livelihood of majority of the poor and excluded people is closely tied to natural resources, our efforts to ensure food will be aimed at increasing rights holders' access to and control over such resources.

We will primarily focus on safeguarding the land rights of landless and poor tenants, with specific focus on women's ownership of land. However, based on the learning and evidences, we have learnt that land alone is not the main factor determining food security because of small land holding.

Hence, we will equally support in regenerating agriculture and advocate for pro-poor agricultural trade policies coupled with equitable and effective distribution systems in areas that face acute food shortage. In the present context of rapid corporate globalisation, the food security of poor and excluded people is influenced by regional and international trade issues.

In the context of Nepal's membership of the WTO and broadening regional and bilateral trade relationships, we will advocate for pro poor agricultural trade policies and for adequate financing for agriculture.

We will focus to restore the support systems for marginal farmers and landless tenants. The rich biodiversity of Nepal and heavy dependence of much of the population on these resources means that patenting is a significant issue. We will, hence, work to ensure protection of the intellectual property rights of poor people.

Key Actions

  • Advocate for pro-poor land and agrarian reform, with special focus on land rights of women
  • Influence constitution making process to ensure socio-economic rights particularly right to food, right to employment & work and fair wages
  • Advocate for poor and excluded communities access to and control over land, forest and water resources
  • Advocate for effective public distribution systems regarding food security in conflict stricken, disaster hit and  food deficient regions
  • Advocate for food sovereignty of nation and campaign for the reversal of unfair trade practices and conditionality imposed by World Trade Organisation and other unjust trade regimes
  • Advocate for equitable and pro-poor trans-boundary water sharing
  • Advocacy for just protected area regime for people living in and around the national parks and wildlife reserves
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