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Thursday, 15 October 2015

World Food Day: Social protection and agriculture

By Bob Aston
As the world prepares to mark the World Food Day on October 16, 2015, the focus of world attention is increasingly shifting to how social protection instruments enables households to better manage risks and engage in profitable livelihoods.
The 2015 World Food Day theme “Social protection and Agriculture: Breaking the cycle of poverty” Illustrates the importance of social protection in tackling vulnerabilities faced by rural households and its role in improving food and nutrition security and reducing rural poverty.
Farmer displaying his produce

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared 16th October as World Food Day (WFD) to honor the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945.

It aims to heighten public awareness of world food security and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.
According to FAO, only 36 percent of the world’s population receives some form of social protection. A majority of people without social protection live in the rural areas of developing countries, many of them dependent on agriculture to make a living.
They are subsistence producers, family farmers, or landless agricultural workers who rely on their own resources and networks to manage their livelihoods.
Providing them with access to social protection helps them to manage the social, economic risks and environmental threats. Through direct income support to the most vulnerable households, social protection helps alleviate extreme poverty and overcome food insecurity.
At the same time, by providing more income security and investing in rural livelihoods, social protection can contribute to improve agricultural productivity, stimulate local economic development, build resilience, encourage sustainable natural resource uses and promote social inclusion.
According to FAO, social protection does more than alleviate hunger and poverty. Many countries in the developing world are increasingly recognizing that social protection measures are needed to relieve the immediate deprivation of people living in poverty and to prevent others from falling into poverty when a crisis occurs.
Farmers preparing land
During this year’s WFD celebrations, FAO seek to support governments and partners in addressing the main challenges for incorporating social protection into national strategies and actions to fight hunger and in promoting greater policy coherence and synergies between social protection, food and nutrition security, agricultural development, natural resource management and rural poverty reduction.
Social protection is a blend of policies, programmes, and interventions that aim at protecting poor and food-insecure people by lifting them out of poverty and hunger. 
Through a variety of programmes that provide financial or in-kind support to poor and vulnerable people, social protection enhances their income, capacities, and rights. They can be social assistance programmes, social insurance programmes, and labour market programmes.
The 35th observance of World Food Day will take place at Expo Milano 2015. This year will commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of FAO. In Laikipia West Sub County, Kenya, the celebration will take place at Mr.  Philip Kariuki’ farm at Ken Village near Ol-Jabet in Marmanet Ward.
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