Research Outline - Food Security and Development Project

Food security has recently gained great interest due to the global food crisis as well as in light of disasters resulting from climate change, such as floods and droughts. While food aid serves as a temporary patch after such disasters, agricultural production is also affected in the long run, and hence, deserves more attention from a development aspect. Yet the relation between extreme weather conditions such as floods and drought and food security is not well understood, and leads to a fragmentation of approaches in development co-operations. Another approach to food security emphasises agricultural production from a health perspective. Household energy insecurity increases the odds of especially vulnerable population groups like pregnant women and infants experiencing food insecurity, poor health and hospitalizations. Here the focus is on people suffering from poor sexual and reproductive health like young mothers and people living with HIV/AIDS that not only suffer from malnutrition (leading to the outbreak of the disease) but also contribute less to agricultural production, affecting food security on the household as well as the national levels.

Food aid is part of the immediate emergency relief after floods, yet there is a general consensus of such aid only being a temporary fix with the need for longer-term solutions strengthening sustainable agriculture. While research related to floods has insofar focused on disaster management, questions of development as well as prevention of such disasters are less understood. A long-term view of development is therefore necessary if food security is to be improved through self-sustainable food production. The project also has a focus on particularly vulnerable people, those suffering from poor sexual and reproductive health and infected with HIV/AIDS. For example the high maternal mortality levels, unmet need for family planning and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in a region has been specifically linked to shortcomings in agricultural productivity. Not only is there a link between the nutritional status of individuals and the potential outbreak of the disease, but also, the contribution of weakened health of people to agricultural production.