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Hunger slows down development – food security is the foundation for the development of society

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 10.6.2020 10.33 | Published in English on 10.6.2020 at 10.40
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Food security lies at the heart of the development of societies and is one of the factors guaranteeing civil peace, says Sanna-Liisa Taivalmaa, Senior Adviser for Rural Development. Three questions about development cooperation is a series of interviews with specialists from the Department for Development Policy.

Sanna Liisa Taivalmaa.

1. Why are you working to improve food security?

Food security is the foundation on which the development of the whole society is built.  Without a sufficient amount of nutritious food, the development of children declines and their chances of a good life and developing the society will be at stake. Food security is also one of the factors contributing to civil peace: “A hungry man is an angry man” is very true.

In food safety, and in agriculture as a central part of it, I have always been fascinated by their comprehensive nature, as they are linked to social, economic and environmental sustainability.  In many developing countries, food security and the whole economy of the country rely on small-scale farming: it is connected with jobs, climate change, innovations as well as the development of equality and human rights.

2. What accomplishment in food security has made you happy? What discourages you?

It is great to see the enthusiasm and initiative enjoyed by women when they get opportunities to develop themselves and their livelihoods. Rural women often get an impetus to improve their prospects from women's groups and farmers' organisations, which also Finland has supported through bilateral, multilateral and CSOs' projects.

At the global level, the goal-oriented cooperation between countries and organisations to eradicate hunger is encouraging. It is also encouraging to have research data that helps to resolve central food security problems.

It is discouraging that, despite all efforts, children's malnutrition is still a serious problem, and the number of hungry people has risen again after several years of decline. In addition to malnutrition, growing problems include obesity and the lack of minerals and vitamins. 

Sometimes rural poverty is overwhelming, because it is difficult for young people to find work and the preconditions to continue living in rural areas. This leads to rapid and uncontrollable growth in cities.

3. What do you say to those who believe that recurring famines prove that development cooperation does not help in eradicating hunger?

Development cooperation is only one way of reducing hunger. Peace, well-functioning institutions in society, environmental sustainability and good governance play a key role in this.

One of the achievements is that world food production has kept pace with population growth and that the number of hungry people has been declining for a long time. However, over the past three years, things have been getting worse. This is due to conflicts, economic recession and climate change. They can all be addressed through development cooperation.

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